Lufthansa (Frankfurt) has issued this statement today:
Lufthansa regrets the announcement of strike action by the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union (VC) for tomorrow (Friday). This morning – and therefore just a few hours before the start of talks that had been agreed for today – the union announced that there would be a strike at Germanwings if agreement wasn’t reached today (Thursday) on the issue of transitional benefits for pilots.
In a letter on Monday, Lufthansa had proposed today’s talks in order to resume negotiations and had prepared a suggestion on what form further negotiations should take. As per Lufthansa’s invitation, the aim of these talks would primarily have been to specify an orderly process and a timetable for further negotiations.
Dr Bettina Volkens, Chief Officer Human Resources and Legal at Deutsche Lufthansa AG, says: ‘We are very disappointed that we cannot avert strike action. The impression given is that the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union had already decided to strike. It is unrealistic to expect to reach agreement on a new model for sustainable transitional benefits in the course of a single day. The fact that an ultimatum for concluding a wage agreement was issued on the morning of negotiations – even though we made it clear that the talks would initially have to be about what form the further negotiation process should take – is very unusual and incomprehensible.’
Lufthansa and Germanwings will now be primarily focusing on limiting the impact of the strike. The strike action announced for Friday will coincide with the end of school holidays in Thuringia and Saxony. Dr Bettina Volkens says: ‘We will do everything to provide the best-possible service to Germanwings passengers and, if possible, to get them to their destination in spite of the strike.’
Prior to the strike, Lufthansa had already made an offer to the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union at the start of April concerning future early retirement from flight service and had therefore created a basis for further negotiations. This offer would provide all cockpit staff with the option of early retirement from flight service, including in the future.
In concrete terms, Lufthansa’s offer on transitional benefits provides for the following:
• For employees who have been working at Lufthansa since before 1 January 2014, Lufthansa will bear the costs of early retirement, including in the future. This means that employer-financed transitional benefits will be maintained for several decades.
• For employees who start or have started work at Lufthansa after 1 January 2014, it will still be possible to retire early from flight service. However, the costs of this will no longer be borne by Lufthansa, but rather by the employees. In the event of incapacity for flight service, a purely employer-financed insurance policy will still be included for all employees.
• The individual age for retiring from flight service will be raised, depending on the length of service, from 55 for more senior up to 60 for younger employees. The longer employees have already been in the company, the less affected they will be by the increase in the earliest possible individual retirement age. Employees who have been with the company for a very long time are not affected at all by the changes.
• Today, on average, cockpit crew leave Lufthansa German Airlines at the age of 59. In future, the average age for employer-financed retirement from flight service at Lufthansa German Airlines is intended to go up gradually over several years to 61. The average age of 61 reflects an overall trend in society towards a longer working life.
Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 747-830 D-ABYP (msn 37839) with the special 1500th Boeing 747 markings departs from Washington (Reagan).