Labor Dispute: Strike Grounds 700 Lufthansa Flights

Lufthansa's far-reaching cost-cutting plans once again resulted in broad strikes on Thursday morning, affecting several of Germany's largest airports. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and the union which called the walkout is not expecting a deal any time soon.

Photo Gallery: Ongoing Lufthansa Labor Battle Photos
DPA

Hundreds of Lufthansa flights were cancelled Thursday morning at airports across Germany as members of a major employee union held warning strikes in advance of labor negotiations with the airline scheduled for Friday.

Representatives from the union, Ver.di, were pessimistic about their chances for successfully striking a deal with the airline and the union's chief negotiator, Christine Behle, said she did not expect an agreement to be reached with the German flag carrier by Friday. Behle said she was surprised at the number of flights cancelled by the airline Thursday.

Lufthansa employees were striking Thursday morning at the Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Düsseldorf airports. Passengers were being asked to check the status of their flights online. Approximately 700 domestic and intra-European flights were cancelled, with intercontinental flights proceeding as scheduled. The walkouts, which began at 4 a.m., came to a conclusion at midday.

An airline spokesperson said the strikes were "completely unnecessary and disproportionate."

'A Provocation'

The union, which represents 33,000 employees, primarily in the technical and service units of the airline, called for the strikes to put pressure on Lufthansa, which it wants to see raise wages by 5.2 percent and to offer more secure employment. Lufthansa wants workers to accept a pay freeze and longer working days.

Janine Peltier, from Ver.di in Hamburg, said: "We consider the demands made by the employer to be a provocation of the union. If we didn't show our strength now, then it would be very, very difficult to come to an agreement."

The airline, which has been suffering losses because of competition from low-cost carriers, wants to cut 3,500 jobs worldwide as part of a saving program called "Score."

In September, strikes by Lufthansa flight attendants opposing that savings plan, which could mean significantly less pay for some of them, disrupted hundreds of flights at German airports, including the hub in Frankfurt, and left passengers stranded throughout the country.

mbw -- with wires.

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