December 10, 2014 / 1:17 PM / in 3 years

Pilots call for wider mediation in dispute with Lufthansa

BERLIN (Reuters) - Pilots at Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) have called for mediation to cover all areas of their dispute with the German airline’s management, not only the early retirement row that has resulted in 10 strikes this year.

Planes of German flagship carrier Lufthansa are parked on tarmac at Munich's airport, December 1, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Lufthansa offered last week to enter mediation to resolve the long-running dispute over early retirement benefits, seeking to halt the pummelling it was taking from repeated industrial action.

The company estimated this week that labour strikes this year have cost it close to 200 million euros ($247.5 million) in operating profit.

However, pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) said in a statement on Wednesday that the dispute could not be laid to rest unless all points of conflict were resolved.

The pilots want Lufthansa to maintain a scheme that allows them to retire at 55 and keep receiving up to 60 percent of their salary until regular pension payments kick in at 65.

They are also against Lufthansa’s plans to start low-cost long-haul flights and are critical of the way management is pushing through low-cost expansion in Europe by using pilots from a unit that is not part of the collective wage agreements at the Lufthansa or Germanwings brands.

“With this call for a wide-ranging mediation, Vereinigung Cockpit is showing a constructive path to resolve the pay conflict to the satisfaction of all parties and showing how Lufthansa can create a successful future together with its pilots,” VC spokesman Joerg Handwerg said in a statement.

Lufthansa’s position has been that the retirement scheme is outdated because pilots may now legally work until the age of 65. It therefore wants to change the conditions for new starters to increase the average retirement age of its pilots.

It has also acknowledged that talks with the pilots on the expansion of low-cost services have been a failure.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by David Goodman

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