Toronto, ON—The Vereinigung Cockpit pilots’ union (VC) has announced a three-day strike for employees of Lufthansa German Airlines, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings at every German airport from April 2 to 4.
“We still have four and a half days to avoid further disruptions for our customers, which would occur with the strike that has been announced,” said Dr. Bettina Volkens, Chief Officer Human Resources and Legal, Deutsche Lufthansa AG. “We are willing to continue the discussions at any time and have laid the groundwork for negotiations with the new offer for the wage settlement and the offer concerning early retirement from flight service. With the goodwill of everyone involved, we should be able to avoid a strike,” Ms Volkens continued.
Lufthansa will, in any event, inform its customers in good time about the details of flight cancellations, rebooking options and alternative travel arrangements at www.LH.com. The Company will also send information about flight changes by email and text message to customers who have provided their contact details.
Yesterday, Lufthansa made VC an improved offer for the wage settlement. It provides for a sustainable pay increase of 5.2 percent for the period from May 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015 as well as a one-off payment for all pilots at Lufthansa German Airlines, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings. A pay freeze is planned for the first six months of this period. There is to be a one-off payment of €2,000 for the period from November 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013. This corresponds to 1.2 percent of the pilots’ total remuneration. For the period from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015, salaries are ultimately to rise in two stages by a total of 5.2 percent: by 3 percent retroactively as of January 1, 2014, and by another 2.1 percent as of July 1, 2014. The original plan of linking salary increases to the Company’s performance has been dropped. Lufthansa has therefore accepted key demands made by VC. This offer means that the pilots would make a contribution to ensure the Group’s future viability comparable with that of other groups of employees.
Yesterday, Lufthansa also offered to ensure that pilots can continue to retire early in the future. The offer safeguards the positions of all employees who joined Lufthansa before January 1, 2014. As before, these employees can receive up to 60 percent of their last gross salary until they reach the earliest possible statutory retirement age of 63. Starting in 2017, the earliest possible age at which pilots can retire from flight service at Lufthansa German Airlines will be raised, depending on the length of service, from 55 for more senior to up to 60 for younger employees. Employees who have been with the Company for thirty years or more are not affected at all by the changes. Pilots at Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings can only leave flight service when they reach 60 years of age, and then make use of transitional benefits.
The previous wage agreement also stipulated that Lufthansa German Airlines cockpit staff had to reach an average age of 58 for early retirement. Lufthansa’s offer now raises the agreed average early retirement age of three years from 58 to 61 years, starting in 2016. The effective average age for taking early retirement in 2013 was already 58.9 years. This also reflects the general societal trend towards longer working lives.
For pilots who start or have started work at Lufthansa after January 1, 2014, it will still be possible to retire early from flight service. The matter of financing these benefits is the subject of future talks with VC. For all employees, the offer still includes employer-financed insurance against incapacity for flight service.