Cabin crew give Lufthansa deadline to avoid strike
By Peter Maushagen and Ludwig Burger
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German airline Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) faces a June 30 deadline to make concessions to cabin crew over pay and pensions or suffer further strikes that would compound the effects of a costly dispute with its pilots.
Lufthansa has been in protracted talks with various staff groups as it seeks to bring down costs and revise pension schemes, to better compete with low-cost airlines and expanding Middle Eastern rivals.
The UFO flight attendants' union said on Monday its members would strike on July 1 if an agreement was not reached with Lufthansa by then. Further one-day strikes would follow that could last to Sept. 16, disrupting travel over the lucrative peak summer season, the union added.
"Everyone ... will have the chance to opt for modes of transport other than Lufthansa on the days for which we are to announce strikes," UFO head Nicoley Baublies told a news conference.
UFO, which represents 19,000 cabin crew at Lufthansa, said on Saturday it would not resume talks with the company after mediation failed.
Lufthansa says that low interest rates mean it can no longer afford the retirement scheme it offers to cabin crew. The costs of the scheme - to the tune of 3.7 billion euros last year - are of particular concern for the airline because cabin crew can take early retirement from the age of 55 due to the strains of frequent flying.
It wants employees to siphon off more of their own salary for pension assets.
UFO wants to keep much of the current retirement scheme. Continued...