It has been a chaotic summer of travel, largely due to staff shortages. That has been made worse by ongoing labor disputes, and it looks like Lufthansa pilots could be next.
Lufthansa pilot threatens to go on strike
Vereinigung Cockpit, the union representing Lufthansa pilots, has announced that it is starting the “legal organizational and preparations for strike action.”
The union has been in negotiations with management for weeks over a new contract. At the end of July 2022, the union held a ballot among members, and 97.6% of members supported the demands for a new contract.
Negotiations have continued since then, and last week management and the union sat down for negotiations, though they weren’t able to reach an agreement. After analyzing the situation this week, the union is now preparing for industrial action.
Yesterday morning Lufthansa management sent an amended offer, though the union rated that as insufficient, despite being a step in the right direction.
Here’s how Matthias Baier, spokesperson for the Vereinigung Cockpit, describes the situation:
“Despite intensive talks between our collective bargaining committee and the employer, no conclusion could be reached about a promising continuation of the negotiations.”
“We’re too far apart at the moment. In addition to compensating for the loss in real wages, what we now need above all is a future-proof solution for the remuneration structure in all professional groups.”
Union representatives acknowledge that they’re still open to negotiating before going on strike, if management can improve its offer.
What is Lufthansa’s pilots union looking for?
We’ve seen some massive pay increases for pilots at airlines in the United States in recent months, especially at regional airlines. By comparison, Lufthansa’s pilots have fairly modest demands.
Vereinigung Cockpit is asking for a 5.5% pay raise this year, plus automatic pay increases in the future in line with inflation. Furthermore, the union is looking for pilots at other Lufthansa Group airlines, including Eurowings, to get the same pay as mainline pilots.
Eurowings and Eurowings Discover are Lufthansa’s low cost carriers, and one way these airlines save money is by not paying staff as well. Pilots are now looking for a uniform compensation structure across airlines, which would eliminate some of the cost advantage of the low cost carrier, and would also decrease how much flying is taken “away” from mainline pilots.
We’re seeing intense labor negotiations across most work groups at airlines and at airports. Aviation has been struggling with staffing issues, and on top of that many work groups didn’t have any negotiating power during the early stages of the pandemic, given how much money the industry was losing. Now that travel demand is back and workers are in short supply, they finally have some power at the bargaining table.
Lufthansa pilots are threatening to go on strike, as management and the union are unable to agree to a new contract. We’ve seen a countless number of strikes in Europe in recent weeks, and it looks like Lufthansa pilots could be next.
In fairness, back in the day Lufthansa pilot strikes happened like clockwork, so it seems overdue at this point. 😉 As of now we don’t have a timeline for a strike, though this is definitely something to keep an eye on if you have upcoming travel on Lufthansa.
Do you think Lufthansa pilots will end up going on strike?