April 29, 2015
Lufthansa agree to general arbitration of all open collective wage agreements
It was back at the beginning of April 2014 that Lufthansa pilots staged their first strike (this one for 3 days) over the changes to early retirement payments for pilots. The situation arose as Lufthansa pilots used to be forced to retire at 60, despite there then being a 5 year gap before they were then able to reach state and pensionable retirement age. In that interim period, pilots remained on 60% of their salary until they reached 65. However the EU changed this situation, allowing the retirement age for Lufthansa’s pilots to rise to 65. The majority of Lufthansa’s 5,400 pilots who were represented by Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), felt that pilots should not be forced to continue flying until they were 65 and demanded that the 60% payment buffer remain in place for any pilots who chose to retire between 60 and the new retirement age. At the same time VC were already in negotiations with Lufthansa’s management over pay increases for pilots for the contract period from 2012.
After a series of 12 strikes which, in 2014 alone, are estimated to have cost the airline €232m (US$255m), including €62m (US$69m) just for December, it has been announced that Lufthansa are now prepared to offer VC general arbitration concerning all open collective wage agreements as a concession to their demands and in an attempt to avoid any further strikes. Lufthansa have confirmed they are prepared to start discussions this week with VC to select a suitable arbitrator. The airline had previously rejected general arbitration as many collective wage agreements had not been negotiated and not all VC claims on some contracts, which VC had terminated, had been formulated.
Lufthansa’s Chief Officer for Corporate Human Resources and Legal Affairs, Bettina Volkens, issued a statement saying:“We would have liked to negotiate on open issues with VC before submitting these complex issues to an arbitrator. In order to finally settle this long wage dispute, we are willing to take this step.”