ALPA Pilots Support Lufthansa Pilots at Demonstration

April 14, 2010 - This week, ALPA pilots from United, Continental, and Delta joined more than 400 pilots and flight attendants from across Europe in a demonstration of resolve and support for the pilots and cabin crew of Lufthansa. Vereinigung Cockpit, VC, the German pilot union, held an informational meeting on Monday in Frankfurt, Germany. Immediately following the meeting, a demonstration took place in front of the Lufthansa corporate headquarters near the airport. In addition to the ALPA pilots who participated, pilots from Austrian, Iberia, LOT, SAS, and Swiss participated in the meeting and demonstration.

Lufthansa pilots have been in difficult negotiations with management over pay, working conditions, and scope issues for more than a year. Management now wants to abrogate job protection commitments pilots received in return for deep pay and work rule concessions when the company was experiencing severe financial difficulties several years ago. At issue in the negotiations is management’s demand that it should be free to outsource pilot jobs and that the job protections not apply to operations outside of Germany. In February, pilots engaged in a brief strike action that brought management back to the table after negotiations deadlocked. Those talks have not resulted in an agreement and strike actions could continue if they are not resolved.

Airlines are becoming increasingly global in nature. There is a clear effort among airline managements to use the recent liberalization of treaties governing air services to develop airline structures that span national boundaries. At the same time, managements are demanding that workers not have the right to collectively bargain and enforce contracts of a similar scope. If Lufthansa management is successful in their demands, then Lufthansa pilot jobs can be readily outsourced.

This is a very clear threat to every pilot, both here and abroad. At the invitation of Captain Winfried Streicher, Vereinigung Cockpit president, United F/O Ron Abel addressed the crowd, stating: “You are not alone in this battle. Pilots across the globe have a significant stake in meeting the industrial and labor issues posed by the increasingly global nature of our industry, and together we shall win.”