Germany's Lufthansa and a union representing cabin crews agreed yesterday to refer their bitter pay dispute to arbitration after flight attendants abandoned duty at airports around the country, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights.
The flight attendants put their plans into action at midnight on Thursday to take on the management of the airline, even as the carrier struggled to compete against European budget carriers and government-owned airlines from the Persian Gulf.
The strike was the most extensive of three work stoppages in the week past following the breakdown of 13 months of contract negotiations between the carrier and the Unabhaengige Flugbegleiter Organisation (UFO) union over differences on pay, and union demands that the airline agree not to outsource jobs or employ temporary cabin crew employees.
Late yesterday, the two sides moved to take some steps in the direction of resolution of the dispute and agreed to launch an arbitration process, that would put any further strikes on hold from Saturday until both sides had decided whether to accept or reject the result, Lufthansa said.
Lufthansa and UFO aim to come to an agreement by the end of next week on the arbitrator, according to the airline's statement.
The two sides were moving towards negotiations and UFO chairman Nicoley Baublies said earlier on Friday that he had talked with Lufthansa during the night. The union would not stage any more strikes immediately - offering a ''pause for Lufthansa to think things over.''