Less than two weeks after a 24-hour walkout left the airline working at half capacity, pilots at Eurowings Germany are set to strike for three days following failed talks with pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC).
From Monday through to Wednesday, flight deck crews affiliated with VC will walk out in protest over poor working conditions. Despite attempts by both parties to find a solution, VC has rejected Eurowings’ new General Collective Agreement as insufficient, resulting in the call for industrial action.
Core demands from VC include reducing the workload for flight deck crews through limiting flight duty times and extending break periods. The current General Collective Agreement has not been updated since its implementation in 2015.
VC has criticized Eurowings’ regular practice of working employees up to the legal limits, arguing that it is fine as an exception, but places a significant burden on staff. The union notes that this dispute regards the reduction of workload and that pay is not included in these negotiations.
“This strike would not be necessary if Eurowings negotiated with us on an equal footing. Unfortunately, the employer is window dressing and seems to want to play for time,” Matthias Baier, press spokesman and board member of VC, wrote in a statement.
“The completely inadequate offers leave the employees no choice but to express their dissatisfaction with the workload in their airline due to a strike and to build up pressure. We regret the considerable restrictions and consequences for the passengers and hope that the management of Eurowings will contact us as soon as possible to resolve this conflict.”
Eurowings have warned that industrial action is putting the carrier at risk, with Kai Duve, airline CFO claiming earlier this month that the action is “endangering the future of Eurowings Germany.”
During the walkout earlier this month, almost 30,000 passengers were affected, with the airline cutting around half its capacity.
“[VC] is inevitably forcing Eurowings into a reduction of its German flight operations and endangering jobs, not just in the cockpit,” Duve added.
Around 170 Eurowings flights are expected to be canceled on Monday, the carrier confirmed with Reuters. Over half are expected to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, though Eurowings will publish a full flight schedule when it is able to account for all pilots reporting for duty. Passengers are advised to check for updates on the status of their flights.
“Eurowings deeply regrets the inconvenience caused to passengers and is doing everything possible to minimize the impact of the strike action on them,” the airline commented.
Only flights operated by Eurowings Germany will be affected; subsidiaries Eurowings Europe and Eurowings Discover are not involved in the strike action.
This week’s call follows months of strike action faced by parent carrier Lufthansa which saw a string of strikes throughout the summer travel season causing significant disruption to operations. In September, Lufthansa reached a “partial” agreement with VC over pay increases and structural changes for flight deck crews, averting a 48-hour walkout at the last minute. Eurowings and other Lufthansa subsidiaries were not included in the deal.
What are your thoughts on this week’s Eurowings strike? Has your flight been affected? Let us know in the comments.
Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg