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Lufthansa strike causes increasing unease

Pilots at Germany's biggest airline, Lufthansa, are continuing their strike in a bid to secure a hefty pay hike. But their protracted industrial action is now meeting with resistance from within the company.

Lufthansa pilots are continuing their strike on Wednesday as all attempts by management to get them back to the negotiating table have failed so far.

A company spokesman said 890 flights would be canceled during the day, affecting a total of 98,000 passengers. The carrier added that flights by Lufthansa subsidiaries Eurowings and Germanwings would not be affected.

Even with the strike interrupted, the airline would have to cancel another 40 flights on Thursday, Lufthansa announced. "Lufthansa plans to operate almost all flights according to schedule on Thursday; only 40 flights will be canceled due to the strikes on the preceding days."

Pilots have been fighting for an annual 3.7-percent pay rise over five years, backdated to 2012 - a demand deemed far too high by management. Board members said the company was losing around 15 million euros ($16 million) per strike day, with the total cost of the protracted work stoppage already standing at 75 million euros.

In a new delevopment on Wednesday, management made a new offer to its pilots. It said it was still willing to grant an increase in wages by 4.4 percent in two installmets as well as a one-off payment, adding that the latest offer was no longer linked to any other terms or conditions.

The pilot's union Cockpit said it would consider the offer but chided the carrier for its slow response.

"Why has it taken six days of strikes for them to make an offer, without conditions, as we had asked," said Cockpit spokesman Ingolf Schumacher.

Growing discomfort

Other parts of Lufthansa's workforce have grown increasingly critical of the pilots' strike action and the behavior of the union representing them, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC).

Watch video 00:23

Lufthansa pilots extend their strike

Lufthansa staff council member Rüdiger Fell told the DPA news agency the current strike was increasingly being perceived as a threat to the company's future operations by many employees.

"Whatever the pilots will achieve for themselves needs to be counter-financed elsewhere," Fell warned, adding that he'd called a demonstration in Frankfurt of employees demanding a speedy end to the strike.

Fell said the pilots' pay hike demands "should match current market realities."

Criticism of the strike also came from the European Commission in Brussels. EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc told the German daily "Die Welt" all parties involved in the labor conflict should act in a constructive and responsible manner to reach a settlement.

She warned against the strike's negative impact on the EU economy. "The major players in the aviation sector are so closely interconnected that the behavior of individual national lobby groups can cause considerable costs for all Europeans in the sector." Bulc added things couldn't go on like this, demanding that a quick solution be found.

hg/sgb (AFP, dpa)

 

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