Threat of disruption from German Lufthansa strike

Germany is bracing for a four-day strike at flagship airline Lufthansa from today that threatens to disrupt travel to and from Europe’s biggest economy.

Lufthansa’s pilots plan to go on strike in a row over pay and job security, fearing the company could try to cut staff costs by shifting jobs to foreign subsidiaries such as Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Italia, where wages are lower.

German transport minister Peter Ramsauer demanded both parties restart negotiations to avert a strike after talks were halted on Friday.

On Saturday, the union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) offered new negotiations this weekend to clarify “misunderstandings”, but would not drop certain demands that Lufthansa’s management had requested, it said. The company said it was prepared for new negotiations if the union did not seek undue influence on managerial decisions. The airline has said the strike will cost it about €100m (£88m) in cash, in addition to lost ticket sales and possible damage to its reputation.

Germany’s economic recovery stalled at the end of 2009, and workers fear they could lose their jobs.