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Strikes imminent as Lufthansa-UFO talks fail

German cabin crew union UFO has said talks with Lufthansa failed after they rejected the airliner's latest offer. An UFO official said that strikes were a "possibility," escalating tensions after years of negotiations.

Talks between Germany's cabin crew union UFO and airliner Lufthansa failed late on Saturday following a November 1 deadline to reach an agreement, the union said.

"We will announce when strikes are to take place on Monday," UFO chief official Nicoley Baublies told the German news agency DPA.

"Strikes are a possibility," Baublies told Reuters.

He said the union was fighting airline plans to cut pensions of 19,000 flight attendants. His union had rejected outright a proposal submitted by Lufthansa.

Lufthansa prepares legal challenge

Lufthansa spokesperson Bettina Volkens described Ufo's hints at further strikes as "unreasonable."

"We will do everything legal possible to prevent a strike," said Volkens who is Lufthansa's head for personal and legal matters.

Pilots already active

Saturday's breakdown in talks follows past stoppages by pilots.Their union Cockpit had up until September staged 13 strikes said to have cost the airline 320 million euros (355 million dollars) since last year.

Lufthansa has in recent months been negotiating with several German trade unions on changes to retirement benefits, working conditions and pay in what it says is its bid to compete with low-costs rivals, such as Etihad and Emirates.

A third union involved is Verdi, the public services union representing ground personel.

Strikes imminent?

Citing low fuel prices, the airliner recently posted profits in the third quarter of 2015, despite losing millions of euros over cancelled flights caused by by the withholding of labor.

In June, UFO had called off a mass strike after signaling progress in negotiations with Lufthansa.

Lufthansa is undergoing major restructuring in a bid to compete.

ls/bw, ipj (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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