Lufthansa and Striking Flight Attendants to Return to the Table
By James Ruggia
September 07, 2012 11:50 PM
Lufthansa’s flight attendants union agreed to return to the negotiating table on Sept. 7 after the airline’s management addressed one of the biggest sticking points in contract talks. UFO, the flight attendants union, has held three disruptive work stoppages over the past week, costing the airline some $13 million.
In Berlin, Lufthansa has agreed to stop using non-union contract workers as flight attendants, a sore point with the UFO. Those flight attendants are now being offered permanent employment. Speaking to a crowd in Frankfurt, UFO leader Nicolay Baublies called for an end to the “trench warfare” between the two sides.
It’s no coincidence that Berlin is at the heart of this issue, since the new airport, now due to open in March, will become an important of Lufthansa’s service. While it won’t supplant the airline’s Frankfurt hub, it will become much more central and the UFO was concerned that these contract workers would become more important in Lufthansa’s labor scheme.
“Without preconditions and for a foreseeable time frame Lufthansa is going to resign from deploying external cabin crews in Berlin,” said Christoph Franz, chairman of the executive board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. “With this decision we are taking a big step towards our social partners. We hope that this step will help the trade union UFO to, within the scope of constructive talks together with us, tread a path leading to a sustainable and competitive wage structure for our cabin staff.”
According to insiders the move will likely bring the two sides back to the table. In Berlin, Carsten Spohr, a member of the executive board of Deutsche Lufthansa, delivered the news to flight attendants who had been recruited for Lufthansa over the past few months by a company called Aviation Power. “We are happy to offer permanent employment within the Lufthansa Group already next year to those flight attendants who supported us in establishing our new Berlin program,” he said. “With this offer our cabin staff has safe and good future prospects within the group.”