Cabin crew members of the German budget airlines Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, went on a three-day strike from December 30 – January 1, to protest the deadlock in a collective bargaining dispute with the company. The dispute revolves around concerns regarding better pay and work conditions for the nearly 22,000 employees of the airline. The call for the strike was given by the labor union, Independent Flight Attendant Organization (UFO).
The protesting flight attendants of Germanwings, under the leadership of the UFO, have long been demanding better work conditions, work hours and wages. UFO has also called for a mechanism to formalize temporary employees who have worked for the company over an extended period of time.
Germanwings is fully owned by Lufthansa and currently operates under the company’s Eurowings brand, with Cologne as its base. According to a report by DW.com, UFO deputy chairman Daniel Flohr accused the parent company, Lufthansa, of failing to provide clarity to the airline’s cabin crew before it executed the merger of Germanwings’ roughly 30 aircraft and 1,400 employees into its major subsidiary Eurowings’s flight operations in 2015.
Highlighting these concerns, the UFO had organized a two-day strike in November of last year as well. Cabin crew members of four of the Lufthansa subsidiaries — Germanwings, Eurowings Germany, Lufthansa City Line and SunExpress Germany — had participated in the strike then. The unions had at that time stressed their demand for increasing expenditure and allowances for the flight attendants, as well as providing opportunities for seasonal workers to switch to regular employment.
While the company authorities were initially unwilling to engage with the UFO. They even questioned its legitimacy in court by arguing that due to an internal leadership dispute, the union could not be considered the legitimate representative of the workers. However, the Frankfurt Labor Court and the appellate Hesse Regional Court dismissed Lufthansa’s petition. The last strike was eventually successful in forcing the management to come to the bargaining table. However, following a deadlock in the collective bargaining with the management, another call to strike was given. UFO has also warned the authorities of further strikes if the deadlock continues.