FILE PHOTO: Planes of German air carrier Lufthansa are parked at Frankfurt airport in Frankfurt, Germany, June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach//File Photo

At Lufthansa, a pilots’ strike has come a step closer. In a ballot, the voting members of the Cockpit Association voted in favor of a labor dispute with a very clear majority. The union reported on Sunday after counting the votes.

This means that a strike by around 5,000 pilots at the Lufthansa core brand is possible with immediate effect, but this was not initially requested from the Executive Board.

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Even before the count, the VC tariff expert Marcel Gröls had explained that it was initially a “warning signal” to the Lufthansa board. “Good offers” are now expected from the management. The negotiations have not yet been declared a failure by either side.

According to VC, 97.6 percent voted for the labor dispute at Lufthansa-Passage, and 99.3 percent at the smaller Lufthansa Cargo. According to the union, participation was over 93 percent in both flight operations. Approval from more than 70 percent of all those entitled to vote was required.

The VC evaluated the result as proof of the great support for the goals of the Group Collective Bargaining Commission. “We now need a modern and fair, internationally competitive remuneration structure in all professional groups,” explained Gröls.

The positive ballot does not necessarily lead to strike action. But it is an unmistakable signal to Lufthansa that it takes the needs of the cockpit staff seriously.

Verdi had not held a ballot beforehand. Businesses and politicians had criticized the length and scope of the work stoppages. Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Wednesday (3 August).

According to insiders, the pilots’ union could be ready for a strike before the end of the holiday season. In previous years, September was also a particularly busy month, so that a strike at this time would also have a severe impact on the company.

The reason for the strike preparations of the VC are the deadlocked after six rounds of talks about a new wage agreement. From the VC point of view, Lufthansa has not yet submitted a negotiable offer.

According to its own statements, the VC demands, among other things, salary increases of 5.5 percent in the current year and an automated inflation adjustment from the coming year. She had terminated the previous collective agreement on June 30th.

In the background, there is also a conflict about the future corporate strategy. In the past, VC had had the exact number of 325 aircraft guaranteed, which may only be flown by the approximately 5,000 captains and first officers who are subject to the group collective agreement.

Under the impression of the Corona crisis, Lufthansa had terminated the corresponding agreement and started to set up a new flight operation (AOC) with lower tariff conditions under the crane logo.