FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) cabin crew will decide next week whether to strike over pay, a move that could cause widespread flight disruption at Germany’s leading airline.
The UFO union, which represents more than 10,000 flight attendants and pursers in Germany, said on Friday it had rejected Lufthansa’s latest offer but expected the airline to make a new proposal by the middle of next week.
UFO chief negotiator Dirk Vogelsang told journalists that a strike seemed increasingly likely.
The strike threat comes as Lufthansa cuts 3,500 jobs - about 3 percent of its global workforce of 117,000 - and freezes investment to boost profit squeezed by soaring fuel prices and fierce competition from low-cost and Middle East carriers.
Lufthansa has also shifted contracts of pilots and flight attendants at carrier Austrian Airlines to a lower-cost subsidiary and boosted cooperation between its main Lufthansa brand and low-cost carrier Germanwings.
UFO is pushing for higher pay after three years without an increase and a pledge by Lufthansa not to staff flights with temporary workers.
The union’s head Nicoley Baublies would not say what form a strike could take but that even just stopping work for a few hours could have knock-on effects for days.
“There are economic difficulties yes, but while they are paying out a dividend, they are clearly not a restructuring case,” Baublies said, adding that the union had offered “painful” concessions, such as fewer days off.
Flight attendants backed industrial action in a vote earlier this month but UFO said it would delay a decision on a strike until Lufthansa had presented its new offer.
The union had hit back at plans by Lufthansa to hire temporary staff as flight attendants on its routes from Berlin, but a German court backed the airline earlier this year. ($1 = 0.8142 euros)
Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen