In a surprise move, the Independent Flight Attendants Union (UFO) which represents cabin crew at a number of German airlines including Lufthansa and its subsidiaries like Eurowings, has extended today’s planned strike action until midnight on Sunday. On Friday, the union had withdrawn a strike threat from the mainline Lufthansa brand after the airline offered a “voluntary” 2 per cent pay rise for flight attendants at Lufthansa only.
But when the union asked for the same offer to be applied across all of Lufthansa’s subsidiaries – Eurowings Germany, Germanwings, SunExpress and Lufthansa CityLine – it took the company less than an hour to reject the demands. Rather than averting a strike, the refusal has apparently made the situation even worse.
The union is apparently incensed by a memo Lufthansa sent to its flight attendants telling them that they faced losing their jobs if they went on strike. “An illegal strike in the middle of the autumn holiday will endanger your jobs and deliberately damage our joint venture,” the memo which was sent to staffers on Friday allegedly read.
And rather than calming tempers with the offer of an immediate pay rise, the union now says “strikes at Lufthansa are possible again at any time,” in a statement released by deputy UFU chairman Daniel Flohr.
Lufthansa does not recognise the UFO as an official union and has started court proceedings in an attempt to strip the union of its ability to represent its flight attendants. According to the UFO, the airline would much prefer Germany’s largest union, Ver.di, to take over the job because they are not seen as being as militant or likely to cause “trouble” with airline management.
The UFO is expected to meet on Monday and has warned that further strikes may be announced at short notice – including at the mainline Lufthansa brand.