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Deutschland Luftverkehr Streik bei Lufthansa
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/v. Erichsen

Negotiations between Lufthansa and unions collapse

July 6, 2015

Recent talks between German flag carrier Lufthansa and various labor unions have collapsed. In the absence of a settlement, strike action may follow.


Facing an impass after unsuccessful negotiations on Monday, the pilots' union Cockpit said that it would hold a board meeting to decide about the prospect of taking industrial action again.

Negotiators have been butting heads for more than a year over proposed changes to early retirement options, resulting in 12 previous rounds of strikes. About 5,400 Lufthansa pilots could be affected by the suggested changes, which would impose stricter limitations on early retirement and pensions.

Ground staff in labor talks

Changes to pensions are also a key sticking point between negotiating parties in another set of industrial talks, where nearly 33,000 Lufthansa employees, particularly ground staff, could be affected by changes to their pension plans. Both Lufthansa and the Verdi union have ruled out any agreement to follow through in the foreseeable future on the issue but as opposed to the pilots' negotations, talks between Verdi and Lufthansa continued well into the afternoon on Monday near Frankfurt.

Labor union Verdi is demanding detailed improvements to ground staff pensions in addition to holding separate talks on potential pay rises, resulting in a fourth round of negotatiations between the parties. Verdi also wants a 5,5 percent overall pay increas, as well as securing guaranteed jobs for apprentices upon completion of training.

Lufthansa said it wanted to hold all negotiations together, while focusing largely on the issue of pensions. The German flag carrier hoped to switch the current system of set pension plans for its ground staff to more flexible annuities, as the company said that low interest rates were hindering it from generating sufficient income return on equity markets to spend on pensions. Lufthansa explained that it was designing changes to its pension plans in line with the practices of other airliners.

Previous talks with other unions, such as the cabin crew union UFO, had resulted in Lufthansa's desired changes but Verdi continued to refuse to accept changes to the current setup for pensions.

There is no word on any impending strike among ground staff members yet.

ss/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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