Wednesday, July 05, 2023

India's Labour Court rules against Lufthansa, gives relief for 17 cabin crew

The Central Government Industrial Tribunal-Cum-Labour Court has directed German premium carrier, Lufthansa Airlines, to reinstate 17 of its former employees whose services were terminated, along with 85 others, in early 2021. The court has deemed the action "illegal."

These 102 Indian employees were working as cabin crew with the carrier when they were sacked on February 2, 2021. Of the 102 staff, 31 had entered a settlement with the management, while the rest took different legal recourse.

According to a petition filed by some of the employees, the airline had only paid the cabin crew one month's salary, along with other contractual and statutory dues.

Lufthansa informed CNBC-TV18 that it is currently evaluating the Labour Court's order and has not yet determined its course of action.

The airline said, "We have taken note of the court's order. It is, however, too early to make a legal assessment of this order."  

This specific order pertains to 25 of the 71 cabin crew who had individually approached the Labour Court. Eight of the 25 cabin crew members had settled their dispute with the management, while the remaining 17 continued the fight.

As per the order, Lufthansa has been instructed not only to reinstate these 17 cabin crew members but also to pay them their wages from the date of termination (February 2, 2021) to the date of the court's order within two months.

The court's 16-page order states that non-compliance by the airline would incur a 6 percent annual interest.

"The claimants are held entitled to reinstatement with full back wages and continuity of service from the date of termination of service. The Mgt no. 1 (management) is further directed to reinstate the complaints forthwith and pay them their last drawn salary and the arrears within two months from the date of publication of the award without interest, failing which the amount accrued shall carry interest at 6 percent per annum from the date of the challenged dismissal and till the amount are finally paid," the Labour Court's order stated.

In response to the petition, the Lufthansa management argued that termination was a last resort as the airline incurred significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic and "struggled to maintain the India business."

The petitioners, however, claimed that the management had initially asked the cabin crew to go on Leave Without Pay for two years, but the staff requested at least half of their salaries during this period, which the management refused.

"The staff had asked the airline to pay at least half of their salaries during the LWP period which was not accepted by the management," according to the petitioners.

Consequently, the airline terminated the services of these employees.

05/07/2023 Madeeha Mujawar/CNBC TV18

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