Lufthansa pilots suspend strike, talks to resume

09:34, February 23, 2010      

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Germany airline Lufthansa' pilots agreed to suspend their strike, and negotiations between the union and company would restart immediately, a German labor court said Monday, which paved the way for a solution to the disputes over payment and job security.

Members of the German Lufthansa pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) attend a demonstration in front of Frankfurt Airport February 22, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Under the labor court's mediation, Vereinigung Cockpit, the pilots union, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG agreed that the walkout would be halted until March 8.

Lufthansa pilots declared a four-day strike on early Monday, after talks with the airline failed on the weekend. About 900 passenger and cargo flights were canceled due to the walkout, disrupting some 10,000 people's trip worldwide.

The Europe's giant airline rushed to demand a court injunction after the strike, saying that the walkout did harm to the public and would cost the company 25 million euros (34 million dollars) per day if it continued.

Members of the German Lufthansa pilots union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) attend a demonstration in front of Frankfurt Airport February 22, 2010.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The pilots demanded a 6.4-percent pay raise, more decision- making power in the company management and a commitment that they will not be replaced when Lufthansa are hiring more and more cheap crews from affiliated airlines, such as Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Italia.

The Cockpit said it would halt strike in the next two weeks, giving another chance of negotiations between the two parts, and threatened that if no agreement were reached on March 8, the strike would continue.

Germany's transport minister Peter Ramsauer warned earlier that any pilot strike could have a severe impact on the country's economic recovery, which was still fragile at this time.

Dieter Hundt, head of the German employers association, said the walkout was the "wrong path", urging two parties to return to negotiations and make compromise.

Lufthansa planned to cut 1 billion euros (1.36 billion dollars) of costs before 2011 as demands dropped significantly in the aviation industry. Laying off workers or cutting wages were expected to be major options to achieve these goals.

Lufthansa planes are pictured at Frankfurt Airport February 22, 2010. Fearing potential staff cuts, Lufthansa's high-paid German pilots took to the picket lines on Monday, plunging the airline into its longest ever strike and forcing the carrier to cancel hundreds of flights. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Thomas Sturm, a union leader at Lufthansa, said the pilots were reluctant to strike, but had no choice. "This is not a great time.. ..we can't simply stand by and watch as Lufthansa gets rid of jobs. "

The Germany government reported earlier that the unemployment rate in January climbed to 8.2 percent, with 3.43 million people losing their jobs.

Germany had registered a five percent contraction in 2009 of the overall economy, the largest recession since world war II.

Source: Xinhua
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