The pilot’s union (Vereinigung Cockpit e.V.) started the thirteenth strike since May 2014 and forced thousands of passenger to cancel or change their travel plans. After the Labor Court in Frankfurt a.M. had confirmed yesterday that the strike called by the pilot’s union was lawful, now a damper has been put on before the Regional Labor Court in Hessen (Case 9 SaGa 1082/15).

Pilots want to prevent Lufthansa from establishing low-cost carrier

The background of the dispute is the controversy about the "Wings project". with which Lufthansa intends to establish a low-cost carrier to stay competitive. Pilots at Lufthansa expect to be paid less on the new “Wings” airlines.

Strike was unlawful

According to a press release made public, the court discovered, based on a multitude of circumstances, that the strike is also about codetermination with regard to the “Wings project” and not only about the stated target of the strike. The union had always argued the strike did not have the purpose of fighting the “wings project” although this was obvious to the general public in Germany.  Codetermination with regard to the “Wings project” is, however, not a goal that can be regulated in a collective bargaining procedure by the union. For this reason, the strike is unlawful, according to the court. In order for a strike to be lawful, it must target goals that can be regulated by collective bargaining.

Union may be held liable for damages caused by the strike

Lufthansa now has the option of holding the union liable for the consequences also economically and demanding compensation for the consequences of the unlawful strike. For the moment, the pilots are again forced to fly. Possible compensation claims are also likely to increase the potential for conflict. A further escalation of the dispute seems to be inevitable.

Courageous but right decision of the Labor Court

The decision was surprising and nevertheless sends the right signals. The regional labor court made a courageous, but correct decision, because this time the union is clearing overshooting the target in triggering this dispute and is pursuing goals that are no longer covered by the freedom of association guaranteed under constitutional law. A strike cannot be aimed at preventing an entrepreneurial decision.