Lufthansa, Eurowings and cabin crew strikes: the story so far

- Leadership - Oct 31, 2016

Eurowings passengers will be waiting nervously this week to see what impact proposed strike action by the UFO union and its cabin crew members will have on scheduled flights.

Lufthansa’s budget carrier has failed to come to an agreement with negotiators over a new contract, which Eurowings claims offers a pay rise of around seven percent.

There is some confusion as to whether this offer was received by UFO. The union says strikes will take place on two unspecified dates in the coming week, this after industrial action was taken on October 27, causing 400 cancellations out of 555 planned flights.   

In a statement responding to the developments, Eurowing’s Joerg Beissel said: “Evidently, the UFO is pursuing goals that have nothing to do with the open aspects of the contract negotiations.”

Lufthansa wants Eurowings to compete with Ryanair

The central pillar to the dispute is Lufthansa CEO Carsten Sphor’s plan to compete with other European budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet. Sphor has targeted Eurowings for efficiency savings so it can lower its prices to become more competitive.

The focus for last week’s walkout by cabin crew was over conditions for part time workers, reductions in wages and provision for pensions.

A UFO statement said: “It is now in the hands of management to prevent or end further strikes. We are always open to constructive and fair offers or proposals.”

Lufthansa pilot pressures continue

On top of the cabin crew strike action, Lufthansa is still to satisfy its pilots in a dispute which has been rumbling on for years.

The company has clashed with pilots over their early retirement schemes, with Lufthansa passenger, cargo and Germanwings pilots walking out last year in what was a dreadful summer for the airline group.

Lufthansa will continue to face the struggle of satisfying pilot and cabin crew demands and cutting costs in order to compete with cheaper airlines, especially in the long haul sector where operators such as Emirates and Turkish intensify their competition.

Further complicating the issue is the merger of Germanwings and Eurowings, the former asking UFO for separate negotiations. There is yet to be an agreement struck by the two parties.

Read the November 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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