Lufthansa pilots balloted over industrial action

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Lufthansa pilots are to vote on possible strike action in a long-running pay dispute with management.

The ballot among approximately 5,400 pilots at Lufthansa, the airline’s cargo arm and low-cost subsidiary Germanwings has been sparked after management last year called off a labour agreement which covered, among other areas, pay when pilots retired prematurely.

The agreement provided for payment of a transitional salary if a pilot became medically unfit to fly or decided to retire for health reasons,

The strike ballot is also a result of general pay negotiations between pilots and management. These have been ongoing with no visible progress for two years.

Lufthansa failed to produce a “negotiable” proposal by the end of 2013, says German pilot union Vereinigung Cockpit.

The union plans not to publish the ballot results until 21 March to give management “enough time for a change a course and to avoid strikes, it says.

Vereinigung Cockpit’s timing for the ballot is nevertheless significant as it could lead to strikes before Lufthansa’s outgoing chief executive Christoph Franz leaves the airline, as is scheduled to happen by the end of May.

Franz's successor is expected to be named during the next supervisory board meeting on 12 March.