German pilots union VC should resume talks with Lufthansa to find a compromise over a long-running pay dispute rather than repeatedly going on strike, a board member at the airline told a German weekly. Lufthansa cancelled nearly 2,800 flights this week following a four-day strike that affected more than 350,000 passengers, the 14th walkout in a dispute running since early 2014 that has cost the airline hundreds of millions of euros.
“We have to talk,” Bettina Volkens, Lufthansa’s board member in charge of human resources told Bild am Sonntag. “I hope very much that (VC) finally changes its uncompromising stance.”
“This cannot be forced via strikes.”
VC rejected the latest pay offer from Germany’s biggest airline late on Friday but lifted the threat of extending their strike beyond Saturday. It said more strikes were possible, and would be announced at least 24 hours in advance.
“The wave of strikes by VC has already hit hundreds of thousands of passengers. This is completely inappropriate because a wage increase demand of more than 20 percent is unique within Lufthansa and across industries,” Volkens said.
Lufthansa has offered to increase wages by 4.4 percent in two instalments, plus a one-off payment worth 1.8 months’ pay. The union wants an average annual pay rise of 3.7 percent for 5,400 pilots over a five-year period backdated to 2012.
Pilot strikes cost Lufthansa 222 million euros ($235 million) in 2014, according to the IW Cologne Institute for Economic Research while in 2015, walkouts by pilots and cabin crew cost the airline 231 million euros.
Lufthansa said it had taken another 20 million euro hit over the first two days of the strike this week.
($1 = 0.9443 euros)