Lufthansa’s Eurowings Union Calls Off Strikes in Cabin-Crew FeudBy
Flight attendants’ walkout last week grounded 400 services
Cabin-crew union threatened two additional stoppages this week
Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Eurowings dodged more strikes this week after a cabin-crew union decided to give negotiations another chance to resolve a contract dispute.
The union UFO, which rejected arbitration after the two sides failed to reach an agreement over the weekend, offered a new round of talks to “make further labor action obsolete,” according to a letter to Lufthansa management posted on the union’s website. UFO proposed Matthias Platzeck, a former prime minister of the German state of Brandenburg and a mediator in past disputes, to lead the gathering. Eurowings said it welcomed the union’s offer and is evaluating potential dates.
The flight attendants had said they would halt work on two unspecified days this week unless a better offer is made. Eurowings, which was mostly grounded by a strike on Thursday, has offered the workers a pay increase of 7 percent on average.
Unions have used contract disputes to disrupt plans by Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr to cut costs to better compete with the likes of Ryanair Holdings Plc and EasyJet Plc. Eurowings is at the center of the effort, and Spohr is pushing to expand the unit into Europe’s third-largest discount airline. Aside from the Eurowings cabin-crew feud, Lufthansa has yet to reach a deal with mainline pilots.
UFO, which said in the letter that it didn’t oppose the Eurowings strategy, called a 24-hour walkout on Oct. 27, causing more than 400 of 555 flights at Eurowings and sister unit Germanwings to be scrapped. The union is pushing for higher pay and seeking better conditions for part-time Germanwings workers.
The labor group is also flexing its muscle amid competition with German services union Ver.di about representing cabin crews. Ver.di asked members at Eurowings to walk out last month in a protest that resulted in only a handful of cancellations.
“Evidently, the UFO is pursuing goals that have nothing to do with the open aspects of the contract negotiations,” Joerg Beissel, Eurowings’ personnel chief, said in a statement after UFO rejected arbitration.