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Scandinavia flights hit by Lufthansa pilot strike

UPDATED: Hot on the heels of strikes by SAS and Norwegian, flights in and out of the Nordic countries are being disrupted by a Lufthansa walkout.

Scandinavia flights hit by Lufthansa pilot strike
Many Lufthansa planes are grounded. Photo: TT

The German airline has cancelled around 750 domestic and European flights scheduled to take place on Wednesday, with long haul services expected to be affected on Thursday as staff called for a second strike.

Just over half of the carrier's scheduled 1,400 domestic and European flights taking off or landing in Frankfurt or Munich were cancelled, affecting around 80,000 passengers, a Lufthansa spokesman said.

Flights between the German airports and Gothenburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki are among those affected by the first walkout.

The German pilots' union Cockpit has called on its members to stop work between 11.01pm on Tuesday and 10.59pm on Wednesday in a long-running dispute over early retirement provisions.

"Despite the strike, the Lufthansa group will be able to operate most of its around 3,000 daily services and offer most passengers alternatives on other flights," Lufthansa said.

"Overall, the airlines of the Lufthansa group will be able to operate around two thirds of its timetabled flights."

Cockpit staged a long series of walkouts last year over management plans to change the pilots' transitional pension arrangements.

Currently, pilots can retire at 55 and receive up to 60 percent of their pay until they reach the statutory retirement age of 65. Lufthansa wants to scrap the arrangement.

Earlier this month, both SAS and Norwegian pilots went on strike in Scandinavia to protest their wages and conditions.

Norwegian — Europe's third-largest budget airline — struck a deal with pilots last week after an eleven day walkout affecting around 200,000 passengers.

TRAINS

Train staff threaten wildcat strike in Skåne on Monday

Trains could be disrupted across Skåne in southern Sweden on Monday after the SEKO transport union threatened a wildcat strike over an attempt to remove a troublesome union official.

Train staff threaten wildcat strike in Skåne on Monday
Arriva, which operates the Pågatåg train network, faces a strike. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
The union has set up a strike committee after Arriva, the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary which runs the Pågatågen regional trains, offered Ola Brunnström, the union's health and safety official, two years of salary if he took voluntary redundancy.  
 
“For us, what was the straw on the camel's back was the attack on the right to self-organisation, that what they are doing is actually breaking the law,” a member of the new committee told the Sydsvenskan newspaper. 
 
“Ola Brunnström is a chief health and safety official and he should be protected under the Trade Union Representatives Act.” 
 
Brunnström has denied the offer, but Arriva wants to push ahead nonetheless and is set to meet him, together with Seko representatives on Monday. 
 
According to Seko, the meeting between Brunnström and Arriva will centre on an  email he wrote to other Seko-affiliated staff on October 9th, when he wrote: “We are not afraid of the bosses, they should be afraid of us.” 
 
 
Jonas Pettersson, Seko's head of planning and communication, told Sydsvenskan that Arriva had been trying to silence a high profile union official with a long hisotry of pushing for better safety for the company's employees. 
 
Arriva would only tell Sydsvenskan that they had had a discussion with one of their employees. 
 
Brunnström has in recent months been a vocal participant in a struggle with the company over equipment to protect staff from being infected with coronavirus, over loo breaks, and also over Arriva's moves to unilaterally reduce employees hours and salary. 
 
Pettersson said Seko would do everything in its power to prevent Brunnström losing his job, but said the union could not support a wildcat strike and encouraged its members not to take part in it. 
 
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