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Lufthansa India cabin crew move tribunal over termination

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on February 12, 2021 Published on February 12, 2021

Lufthansa’s cabin crew in India has dragged the German airline to the Central Government Industrial Tribunal for terminating services of 103 Indian flight attendants who were on fixed-term contracts. The employees have filed a petition under the Industrial Disputes Act. They have also represented to the Ministry of Labour.

The petition is being filed by Senior Advocate Mohan Bir Singh under Sections 2-A, 9 (A), 10 (1) and 33 of the Industrial Disputes Act. Speaking to BusinessLine, Singh said the airline did not issue a notice to the employees before firing them.

In response to a query by this newspaper, Lufthansa said it “regrets to confirm that it will not be extending the fixed-term employment contracts of its Delhi-based flight attendants.”

Lufthansa said it had signed an agreement with the Indian union providing for two years of unpaid leave, with the airline continuing to provide local health insurance even for enrolled family members. Lufthansa claimed it was also willing to absorb all associated premiums during this period. “Unfortunately, consent to the agreement was revoked by the union on December 31. Indian cabin crew with unlimited contracts are not affected as Lufthansa was able to reach individual agreements with these flight attendants.”

But Singh said: “The employees were made to work with salary cuts for the past several months. When requested for a guarantee of the job post the two years, their jobs were terminated. They had no option but to withdraw their consent.”

According to Singh, Lufthansa has violated multiple sections, and “we have prayed for the prosecution of officers who took this decision in India, too.”

Lufthansa was granted state aid by the German Government in June 2020, said one of the employees requesting anonymity. “No such terminations have happened in Germany or worldwide till date. These terminations happened overnight without giving any prior notice. Some of those terminated had been employed for nearly 15 years. The Indian cabin crew union is already in a court case against Lufthansa management for Unfair Labour Practices since 2017,” an employee said.

Lufthansa said it plans to deploy 150 fewer aircraft by 2025. “It follows that required cabin staff in all our markets is also affected. Even now, low demand for international air travel, resulting particularly from government restrictions, leaves cabin staff with little or no work left to do,” the airline said.

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Published on February 12, 2021
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