November 5, 2015 / 7:28 AM / 4 years ago

Lufthansa cabin crew to start week-long strike Friday

FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) - Lufthansa’s main cabin crew union said a week-long strike would start on Friday at the German carrier, after last-minute talks between staff and management over early retirement benefits and pensions broke down.

Nicoley Baublies (R), head of German air carrier Lufthansa cabin crew union "UFO," poses for a picture during a strike at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt, September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

“Friday will be the first day of the week of strikes,” cabin crew union UFO said in a statement on Thursday.

The union said it would not strike before 1100 GMT (0700 EDT) and would give more details on Friday morning.

Lufthansa, which has taken a 130 million euro ($141 mln) hit to profits from strikes so far this year, said because the union was not providing any details of the strike until Friday, it could not yet work on a revised flight schedule.

“With only a few hours between any strike announcement and employees stopping work, the effect on passengers is likely to be significant because Lufthansa has no chance to draw up alternative plans,” it said.

Lufthansa Group airlines Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Germanwings, Eurowings, and Brussels Airlines will not be affected by the strike though.

Lufthansa said on Thursday afternoon that the union had rejected a proposal that would have met all the union demands for current employees, but would introduce a new scheme for new starters. One of the union’s main demands was that current and future employees be treated the same.

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

The airline also held talks on Thursday with union Verdi, representing around 33,000 ground, cargo and other cabin crew staff, on pensions. Those talks ended without a deal being reached, said Verdi, which said the next round of negotiations would be held on Nov. 10.

The pilots’ union has staged more than 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 extended losses after the strike announcement and closed down almost 4 percent.

Editing by Maria Sheahan and Elaine Hardcastle

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