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Deutsche Lufthansa AG

Union's move can help to avert Lufthansa strike

JUERGEN BAETZ  Apr 02, 2010

BERLIN — A union representing Deutsche Lufthansa AG pilots said Thursday that it is prepared to take a dispute with Germany's biggest airline to arbitration — a move that could avert a four-day strike planned for mid-April.

Pilots are now waiting for a detailed response from Lufthansa, Cockpit union spokesman Jan Krawitz told The Associated Press.

The union — representing some 4,000 pilots — will only scrap the planned walkout if an agreement on the timing, conditions and a chief arbitrator can be reached, Krawitz added.

Lufthansa spokeswoman Claudia Lange welcomed the union's willingness to take the dispute over pay and job security to arbitration, as the company had previously suggested.

She insisted, however, that Cockpit has to call off the planned strike as a precondition for arbitration.

"We can agree on scheduling talks as soon as the strike is called off," Lange said. Details on timing and a chief arbitrator would have to be negotiated by both parties at a first meeting, she added.

The dispute led to a first round of walkouts in February, but that planned four-day strike was cut short after a day with an agreement to resume negotiations.

The talks stalled and Cockpit last month threatened to stage more strikes April 13-16.

Cockpit said at the time that Lufthansa is offering no pay rise over a 21-month period combined with worsening conditions. It said it would make any concessions "dependent on securing German jobs and their development prospects."

Lufthansa countered that its latest offer to Cockpit addresses the union's concerns over job security.

The dispute at Germany's biggest airline also affects Lufthansa Cargo and the budget Germanwings subsidiary.

Lufthansa owns or holds stakes in other airlines including Swiss International Airlines, Brussels Airlines and JetBlue of the U.S. Those airlines are not affected by the dispute.

Shares of Lufthansa, based in Cologne, were up 3.1 percent on the news, trading at euro12.66 ($17.07) in Frankfurt.

The development at Lufthansa comes as rival British Airways is still locked in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions with a union representing its cabin crew.

A four-day strike in late March stranded thousands of passengers. BA staff have threatened a third walkout this month if their dispute over a pay freeze and changes to working conditions are not resolved by then.

Union's move can help to avert Lufthansa strike
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Source: AP

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