This International Airlines Has Fired 73% Of Indian Cabin Crew Members; Find Out Why?
On Feb 12 Lufthansa fired 103 out of 140 cabin crew and flight attendants based out of Delhi. They cited severe financial impact from the Coronavirus pandemic that forced the company to restructure and take personnel-based cost-cutting measures.
In an official statement the airliner said that “it will not be extending the fixed-term employment contracts of its Delhi-based flight attendants”.
Those contracted with unlimited employment remain affected since the airline has negotiated and made agreements with them individually.
The carrier had offered them two years of leave without pay (LWP) along with health insurance coverage for the employees and their families. They also expressed willingness to absorb all premiums. The story goes that the employee union had consented to these terms. However they backed out from the same on December 31.
Allegedly when the employees asked for job assurance after this period, they were denied and laid off.
The Indian cabin crew was hired as part of Lufthansa’s “More Indian Than You Think” campaign aimed at attracting Indian passengers.
While it was successful, the last year has proved to be very turbulent for its operations.
Disagreement Between Lufthansa and Indian Govt.
After cessation of flights from March, Lufthansa made a return only in July and flights resumed in August. The airline capitalised on the increase in traffic and expanded its schedule which was cut by the Indian government in October.
The centre explained that it took this step because it was against the disparity between the number of flights ran between Lufthansa and Air India.
Lufthansa’s Financial Woes
The German firm has stated that it is burning through €500,000 an hour or several hundred million Euros every month. It has been pushed into the corner and forced to reduce its fleet by 150 aircrafts by 2025. So a natural consequence is the unfortunate termination of redundant staff which has little to no work to do amidst low air travel demand and government restrictions.
The blow dealt by the pandemic to the aviation industry is expected to continue well into 2023. In this backdrop airlines have chosen to regroup their resources at home base rather than abroad.
Lufthansa “Exhausted All Possible Options”
Lufthansa tried to soften the blow it dealt to its Indian employees by mentioning that “this restructuring is not limited to India but affects all our worldwide markets and to a great extent includes our home markets, especially Germany. However, there we were able to reach initial agreements with unions to help weather the crisis.”
The affected employees supported the last claim as Germany, home country of the airliner, granted a $10.1 billion bailout in June 2020. They further stated that no job cuttings of this level has followed in Germany or worldwide.
Not Going Down Without A Fight
Some of the employees gathered at Aerocity, Delhi on Friday to protest against what they say was an overnight decision without any prior notification given about their termination and offered only a month’s salary as severance package.
Some of those fired had served the company for over 15 years.
The airliner will be taken to the Central Government Industrial Tribunal for wrongful termination of employment. A petition has been filed by Senior Advocate Mohan Bir Singh under the Industrial Disputes Act.
The main conflict points are lack of issuance of any notice before firing workers. Singh also alleges that employees were made to work for several months with pay cuts.
Further developments remain to be seen as this is an ongoing matter.