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Cabin crew union says Lufthansa strikes unavoidable

The head of Lufthansa’s main cabin crew union said strikes at the carrier are now “unavoidable”, after the union reviewed the latest proposals on pensions and early retirement benefits from management.

Lufthansa is negotiating with various staff groups as it tries to reduce costs and talks over pensions and early retirement benefits in particular have met with opposition from staff keen to protect their pensions.

Lufthansa had tried to encourage the cabin crew union, which represents around 19,000 flight attendants, back to the negotiating table by sending across on Wednesday some new variants of a deal based around previous proposals and suggesting talks for 1300 GMT on Thursday.

“There’s nothing new in it,” Nicoley Baublies, the head of the UFO union, told Reuters on Thursday morning.

The union had on Monday said that it would call for a week-long strike from Friday if Lufthansa management did not make a better offer by 1600 GMT on Thursday. It has not yet said which flights the strike will target.

Lufthansa, which has taken a 130 million euro ($141 million) hit to profits from strikes so far this year, said it was “pulling out all the stops” to try and stop the strike, which at a week long would be the longest the carrier has ever seen.

The airline is also due on Thursday to hold talks with union Verdi, representing around 33,000 ground, cargo and other cabin crew staff, on pensions.

The pilots’ union has also staged over a dozen strikes in the last 18 months over early retirement benefits and the carrier’s low-cost expansion plans. The last strike in September was halted by a court, which ruled the pilots did not have the right to strike over a strategic decision such as low cost expansion.

Lufthansa shares were down 0.5 percent on Thursday.

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