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Labor court rules Lufthansa strike illegal

Lufthansa flight attendants on strike in Dusseldorf are no longer permitted to continue their walkout through Tuesday, after a labor court has ruled the industrial action illegal.

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Lufthansa wins symbolic court victory

The legal decision came as the result of an injunction request to the Dusseldorf Labor Court, brought forward by Lufthansa management against its personnel earlier in the day.

It is currently unclear as to whether the injunction will carry over to Wednesday and extend through the rest of the week.

The court adopted the injunction against what is now the longest walkout in the company's history, as it said the call for industrial action from the cabin crew union UFO was "not specific enough."

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr justified the legal move by saying the board was forced to explore all legal risks and opportunities. "I would prefer to find a solution at the negotiation table and not in court," the Lufthansa CEO told Reuters TV.

Union action spurs legal action

The move to take legal action came after the airline had to cancel 136 intercontinental and short-distance flights due to cabin crew walkouts early Tuesday. UFO targeted Germany's three largest airports in Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf, leaving over 27,000 passengers stranded.

Later UFO expanded the strike parameters in an attempt to ground all Lufthansa flights. It called upon its 19,000 members to walk out of all short-, middle- and long-distance flights starting on Wednesday and lasting until midnight on Friday.

Among other contract disputes, UFO is trying to secure transition payments for its members if they retire early. The union rejected an offer from cost-cutting Lufthansa on Monday, saying it offered only "minimal" improvement.

Along with unhappy passengers, German industry leaders have also condemned the strike, saying it is hurting the German economy.

This is not the first time that Lufthansa has headed to the courts in a bid to end its internal disputes. Lufthansa successfully stopped a strike in September after taking legal action against the pilots' union, Cockpit. In the end, the judges in Frankfurt sided with Lufthansa's arguments and declared the strike illegal.

Lufthansa has made information regarding canceled flights available online at: www.lufthansa.com/de/en/Travel-information

hch/uhe (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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