LOT airlines hit by strikes

The Polish airline LOT is threatened by strikes as different groups of its employees demand substantial increases in salaries. The Warsaw airport Okecie was already hit by a strike of ground service workers last week. They stopped work for two hours between 6 and 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb 6. The interruption in check-in activities resulted in 10 flights being cancelled and another 35 delayed. The company says it lost 700 thousand zloty as a result of the strike.

Ground service employees are demanding pay raises as well as severance pay to those laid off by the company. Leaders of the Solidarity trade union say they have no other choice but to strike to protest their low wages. Previous negotiations with the company board have brought no solutions. And ground service is not the only group of employees threatening to strike. On Wednesday, the trade union of flight attendants negotiated pay with the board. This also did not lead to any agreement, and another strike was scheduled for Friday from 10:00 to 00:00. Even though the walkout was cancelled, the flight attendant situation is serious.

The attendants want 30 per cent pay raises, while the board says it can offer only 6.8 percent. According to trade union leaders, the employees haven’t received a raise in five years, while their productivity and the revenue of LOT have risen substantially
Pilots also are demanding higher salaries. They also want longer rest breaks between work shifts and better insurance. A strike of pilots is likely to take place at the beginning of March.

LOT is the biggest airline in Poland, controlling 31 percent of the local market. Last year the company transported 4.2 mln people and earned 161 mln zloty in revenue. This year much lower revenue is expected because of increases in fuel prices and other charges. The government is still the major shareholder of LOT, with 68 percent ownership. The Polish Treasury plans to sell its stake to one of the world’s major airlines, but a buyer has not been identified. This autumn, LOT will enter the Warsaw stock exchange.

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