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Lufthansa arbitration with labor union falls apart

November 20, 2019

Lufthansa and trade union UFO remain at odds over pay for some 21,000 workers, which led to a two-day strike earlier this month. The two sides had agreed to arbitration, but negotiations to that end have broken down.

UFO strikers
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Balk

Talks between Lufthansa and the cabin crew trade union UFO over entering comprehensive arbitration have fallen apart, both sides said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Last week, Lufthansa and UFO agreed to enter arbitration to resolve ongoing wage disputes, though neither side had yet named their respective arbitrators. The two sides have been at odds over pay for some 21,000 staff members as well as the union's legal status.

However, Lufthansa withdrew its approval for arbitration because UFO did not agree to completely renounce strikes at four Lufthansa subsidiaries. Meanwhile, a UFO spokesman said Lufthansa was trying to "blackmail" the trade union.

Lufthansa insisted that it would continue to the arbitration process with the UFO, though the German airline said the sticking point was now the so-called small mediation, which concerns wage issues that spurred the union to call for its most recent work stoppage.

Wage dispute

Earlier this month, UFO organized a 48-hour strike which impacted four Lufthansa subsidiaries — Germanwings, Eurowings Germany, Lufthansa City Line and SunExpress Germany. Lufthansa was forced to cancel 1,500 flights, which affected 200,000 passengers.

The collective bargaining issues that led to the UFO strike included more expenses and allowances for flight attendants as well as opportunities for seasonal workers to switch to regular employment.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr had tried to ban the strike in court, but did not succeed. On the first day of the strike, he offered negotiations for comprehensive arbitration.

dv/dr (AFP, dpa)

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