Lufthansa tries to stop cabin crew strike in courts

Travellers looking monitors displaying flight information, with many Lufthansa flights being cancelled, during a strike by cabin crew, on Nov 9, 2015.
Travellers looking monitors displaying flight information, with many Lufthansa flights being cancelled, during a strike by cabin crew, on Nov 9, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (REUTERS) - Lufthansa filed injunctions on Tuesday to try to end what is shaping up to be the longest strike in the airline's history, after cabin crews called for a 68-hour walkout to cap a week of daily protests.

Flight attendants started striking last Friday and the cabin crew union raised the pressure on Tuesday by calling for walkouts at Frankfurt, Duesseldorf and Munich airports from 0300 GMT (11am Singapore time) on Wednesday through to 2300 GMT on Friday.

Lufthansa said it had filed for temporary injunctions at labour courts in Darmstadt and Duesseldorf after four days of strikes resulted in more than 1,800 flights being cancelled and left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded.

The airline is negotiating with various staff groups as it tries to bring costs down to compete with budget rivals and Gulf carriers, and has been hit by strikes as a result, with the cabin crew protests coming after walkouts by pilots.

"As management, we are forced to explore our legal options, but I would rather find a solution at the negotiating table," Lufthansa chief executive officer Carsten Spohr said on the sidelines of an event in Berlin on Tuesday.

He said top management would hold talks with the cabin crew union (UFO) on Tuesday afternoon, if the walkout was halted.

But the union, which represents 19,000 Lufthansa flight attendants, said it would continue its protests, with the latest call including all short- and long-haul flights.

Separately, German pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) filed a complaint with Germany's constitutional court to challenge a legal ruling that forced it to halt its strikes at Lufthansa in September.

The union has held more than a dozen strikes over the last 18 months, but the last one was stopped when a court in Hesse ruled on Sept 9 that the pilots had overstepped their mandate by striking against strategic company decisions.

VC said its complaint was based on two grounds: that the court was wrong in saying the pilots were striking for reasons other than early retirement benefits, and that the court had wrongly assumed the jurisdiction of a higher federal court.

The court said at the time that in this dispute the pilots were only supposed to be on strike over pay issues but an analysis of union statements showed the protests also centred on opposition to the expansion of Lufthansa's budget airline.

A spokesman for the Karlsruhe-based constitutional court said no date had been set yet for the hearing.

Lufthansa shares were down 1.6 per cent at 1315 GMT, underperforming the DAX Index.