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Union boss told to quit over Lufthansa flights

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Union boss told to quit over Lufthansa flights
Bsirske talks to workers on June 19, before taking the free flights. Photo: DPA
12:49 CEST+02:00
Trade union chief Frank Bsirske saw his tropical vacation interrupted with calls for his resignation on Saturday after Bild newspaper reported he had taken free first-class flights from Lufthansa shortly before a strike at the airline.

Bsirske, chairman of trade union Verdi, took his wife on a free first-class Lufthansa flight to the South Pacific shortly before Verdi members capped a long-running wage dispute with the airline by walking off the job this week, Bild reported on Friday.

The trade union and Lufthansa announced a tentative wage agreement on Friday after Verdi members had walked off the job on Monday.

Bild reported that Bsirske and his wife flew business-class from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main on July 8 and then flew first-class through Los Angeles to a five-week vacation in the South Pacific.

Bsirske was entitled to the free flights because he is acting chief of the supervisory board of Lufthansa AG, but his timing raised eyebrows across the political spectrum in Germany and has led to calls for his resignation.

“Mr. Bsirske should stay in the South Pacific. If he does not resign now, union members should kick him out,” Dirk Niebel, secretary-general of the Free Democratic Party, told Bild on Saturday.

Michael Fuchs, an expert for the conservative Christian Democrats, told the paper Bsirske should also resign his position on the Lufthansa board.

Criticism also came from Bsirske’s own Green Party. Party whip Thea Dückert said that while Bsirske was technically within his rights to take the flights, it did not show sensitivity.

A Verdi spokeswoman would confirm to German press agency DPA on Friday only that Bsirske was on vacation.

Lufthansa took a diplomatic approach towards the incident despite the trouble Bsirske’s union had caused it over the past week. "We decline to comment, and we do not release the flight information of passengers," a Lufthansa spokesman told DPA.

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