Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), the union representing the bulk of Lufthansa’s ‘mainline’ pilots, has announced that it has broken off negotiations. This comes after several months of negotiations worked to arrive at long term labor peace.
The big sticking point is VC’s demand that Lufthansa provide an outlet for pilots to choose early retirement and still receive their full retirement benefits, a concept that LH has steadfastly opposed.
Another fly in the union’s ointment is Lufthansa activity around Eurowings. With recent announcements of LH taking on Air Berlin aircraft and routes, as well as the expansion of Eurowings to Munich, the union is claiming this is being done intentionally by LH to reduce mainline demand. The union sees the risk of potential pilot layoffs from mainline which is why it feels LH is not negotiating a solution to early retirement options.
Though no strikes have been mentioned by name, VC has a history of calling ‘warning’ strikes that pop up with little or no notice, and last a few hours at a time. Just enough to disrupt operations and upset an airport full of passengers. These mini-strike are often warning shots in an attempt to force LH’s hand and they typically don’t succeed. So don’t be surprised if something isn’t announced on very short notice over the coming weeks.
Personally, I thought that VC and LH had started to warm up towards one another over the last few months after a tumultuous 2014 and 2015 that saw 13 strikes and hundreds of millions of Euro in losses for Lufthansa.
This of course is addition to the labor woes impacting Eurowings as they try to sort things out with Ver.di.
I’m afraid that history may be poised to repeat itself…….