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Vereinigung Cockpit


Almost 900 Lufthansa flights have been canceled after the company lost an eleventh-hour legal bid to halt a pilots strike.

The two-day strike over pay began at midnight local time, with Lufthansa saying about 100,000 passengers will be affected.

Flights by Lufthansa’s other airlines including Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, and Brussels Airlines are not affected, the company said.

The industrial action is part of a long-running pay dispute at Lufthansa.

Lufthansa pilots strike has triggered the cancelation of 1,511 flights

The pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit, has organized 14 strikes since April 2014.

On November 22, Lufthansa made two legal challenges to halt the strike.

A Frankfurt labor court first rejected Lufthansa’s application for an injunction. Later in the evening, the Hesse state labor court rejected the airline’s appeal.

Pay talks between the Vereinigung union and Lufthansa broke down earlier this month, and Lufthansa said the union had “consistently rejected the offer” of mediation.

The Vereinigung is calling for a 3.7% pay rise for 5,400 pilots dating back to 2012.

Lufthansa, which is facing increasing competition from budget rivals, offered a 2.5% increase over the six years until 2019.

Meanwhile, a separate dispute with cabin crew at Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary, Eurowings, led it to cancel more than 60 flights on November 22.

Lufthansa pilots have announced they would go on strike on March 18, affecting the airline’s short and medium-haul flights.

The strike action was called by the pilot’s union Vereinigung Cockpit in an ongoing dispute with the German national airline over its early retirement benefits.

Workers are also in a dispute over Lufthansa’s plan to expand its low-cost operations.

The move is the latest in a series of strikes that have plagued the airline.

Photo PA

Photo PA

The walkout would last 24 hours, affecting flights throughout Germany. But flights at the carrier’s budget units Germanwings and Eurowings would not be affected, the union said.

Pilots have held a series of strikes from last year over Lufthansa’s plans to change their pension arrangements.

Lufthansa wants to get rid of a program that allows pilots to retire at age 55 and receive up to 60% of their pay until they reach the statutory retirement age of 65.

Vereinigung Cockpit union also said that Lufthansa wants to offer younger pilots less attractive working conditions, forcing it to strike.

Strikes cost Lufthansa 232 million euros ($278 million) in 2014.

A new Lufthansa pilots strike has triggered the cancelation of 1,511 flights over October 20 and October 21.

The strike was initially aimed at mostly European flights, but will be expanded to international routes on October 21, hitting 200,000 passengers.

Lufthansa said that the strike, over changes to retirement and pensions terms, would hit profits and its image.

However, the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) union said it wanted to send a clear message.

Last week, VC called out its members at Lufthansa’s budget airline, Germanwings, for a 12-hour stoppage.

The union, which represents about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, is calling on the airline to reconsider its decision to raise the age that they can retire from 55.

Lufthansa pilots strike has triggered the cancelation of 1,511 flights

Lufthansa pilots strike has triggered the cancelation of 1,511 flights

The company has offered to retain the scheme for existing members but not to extend it to new recruits.

VC said Lufthansa was “stonewalling” over talks. Union board member Markus Wahl said: “We are extending the strike in order to send a clearer signal. Perhaps now, Lufthansa will finally come round.”

Simone Menne, Lufthansa’s chief financial officer, said in a statement: “The strikes are not only causing significant financial damage but are also damaging our image, the consequences of which are significant and not yet clear.”

Lufthansa said it hoped to operate a third of its flights over the two days.

The Lufthansa strike follows a walk-out over the weekend by railway drivers.

The train drivers’ strike was over demands by the GDL for a 5% pay for 20,000 drivers and a shorter working week.

The head of the GDL union, Claus Weselsky, said there would be a week-long break before any further strikes.

The German Industry Federation business lobby condemned the strikes, saying they harmed “the entire economy” by affecting logistics, tourism and business travel.

Germany’s economy has been slowing recently. However, the Economy Ministry said although the strikes would certainly “impact some sectors of the economy”, there was no reason to change the 2014 growth forecast which was lowered this month to 1.2%.

Germany’s government is expected to produce a draft law later this year aimed at stopping small numbers of employees paralyzing large parts of the country’s infrastructure through strike action.

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Lufthansa pilots have voted to strike in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions.

The pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), said more than 90% of its members voted in favor of the industrial action.

Vereinigung Cockpit, which represents more than 5,000 pilots, said it would give the public at least 48 hours notice before any strike.

Lufthansa pilots have voted to strike in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions

Lufthansa pilots have voted to strike in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions (photo Reuters)

The union says no walkouts are planned, as yet, for the Easter period.

The pilot’s chief negotiator, Thomas Sturm told journalists: “None of us really wants to strike and we’ve been negotiating very patiently, but our patience has run out.”

Lufthansa, which is under pressure to cut costs, has already agreed pay deals with ground staff and cabin crew.

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