Union calls on Lufthansa pilots to stage strike

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BERLIN (AP) - A union representing Lufthansa pilots has called on its members to go on strike Monday in a dispute over retirement benefits.

The Vereinigung Cockpit union said Sunday that the strike will begin on short- and medium-haul services at noon local time (1100 GMT) Monday, and be extended to long-haul and cargo flights from 0300 (0200 GMT) Tuesday. The walk-out is due to end Wednesday.

The strike follows failed talks with Lufthansa over the pilots' demand that Lufthansa keep paying a transition payment for those wanting to retire early. The airline wants to cut those payments, citing tough competition from European budget airlines and major Gulf carriers.

According to German news agency dpa, Lufthansa has already had to cancel 6,000 flights due to pilot strikes since April.

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