SEven as the Cockpit union last week for the second round of strikes in the collective bargaining dispute with the German Lufthansa called, it seemed clear that not all points of contention between the union and the company would be resolved in a timely manner. Both sides then at least found each other so far that it did not come to the – already announced – walkout of several days. Instead, negotiations started again, which have now led to a partial result.
The pilots of the Lufthansa core brand, who are subject to what is known as the group wage agreement, will receive surcharges in two steps: retroactive to August 1 and again to April 1, 2023, their basic monthly salary will increase by EUR 490 each – a total of EUR 980. Lufthansa is thus asserting its intention not to pay the same percentage surcharge for all captains and first officers, but to narrow the spread in salaries somewhat with the fixed amount.
“The increase in the basic salary with uniform base amounts leads to the desired disproportionate increase in starting salaries,” said Lufthansa Chief Human Resources Officer Michael Niggemann on Monday. However, the surcharge is larger than originally planned. Until last week, Lufthansa had offered a total of 900 euros.
Surcharge of up to 20 percent
the Union cockpit, which had demanded that the pilots at least get compensated for the general increase in prices. Now the union can announce to its members that at least the lower pay brackets in the cockpits – especially co-pilots with few years of service – will receive significantly more. Lufthansa calculates that the increase by the lump sum from April 2023 is equivalent to a surcharge of almost 20 percent on the previous basic remuneration.
For the top earners in the cockpit – long-serving captains whose total remuneration is significantly more than 200,000 euros a year – the agreement means a premium of 5.5 percent in the final stage, i.e. less than the current inflation. The Cockpit Association explains that an agreement was reached “to counter high inflation during the term and at the same time to incorporate a strong social component”.
controversial issues remain
With the agreement, however, details beyond the monthly payments remain unclear. Passengers should not feel the lack of agreement for the time being through further strikes. The group and the union agreed on a peace obligation until June 30, 2023. “The collective agreements are still open, but the points to be negotiated can now be discussed in a confidential setting,” said a spokesman for the Cockpit Association.
Lufthansa HR Director Niggemann said: “The common goal is to continue to offer our pilots attractive and secure jobs with development prospects in the future.” Now they want to use the next few months “in a trusting dialogue” to “find and implement sustainable solutions “.
Discussions about a fleet commitment
The collective bargaining conflict had gotten sharper, among other things, because Lufthansa had terminated a perspective agreement (PPV) shortly before Christmas last year – still in the context of the effects of the corona pandemic – which stipulated that at least 325 aircraft in the group should be operated by Lufthansa staff -Group collective agreement to be flown. “The PPV fleet commitment does not fit either the current crisis or the medium-term framework conditions,” Lufthansa informed the pilots at the time.
The pilots took this as a declaration of war, as they feared that more traffic would be relocated to subsidiaries outside of the group tariff – especially to the newly founded unit Eurowings Discover. In the meantime, in view of the increased demand, the categorical end for the perspective agreement is also considered a mistake by the group’s board of directors. After shrinking during the pandemic, the group plans to increase the fleet again in 2023 by 13 long-haul and 40 medium-haul aircraft.
Lufthansa has also agreed to revive the pact. However, the group should be interested in modifications that are not well received by the unions. One of the sticking points is likely to be pilots of the Germanwings operating unit who are covered by the regulation and whose operations were discontinued during the pandemic. The number of flights offered by the Lufthansa core brand has not yet reached the volume that all affected Germanwings pilots could be deployed there.
The Cockpit Association had named regulations on illness, vacation and training as other open issues and called for a “sustainable solution for the remuneration structure in all professional groups”. The union therefore refers to open points. “The good monetary result is pleasing, but we are also pleased that we were able to take another step towards a more sustainable partnership,” said Marcel Gröls, Chairman of Collective Bargaining. For the next few months of negotiations, however, he also asserts: “We are currently on the right track with Lufthansa.”