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Cabin crew union, Lufthansa attempt to avert strikes

A Lufthansa employee holds up a placard reading 'we are Lufthansa' during a strike by cabin crew union (UFO) at Frankfurt airport, Germany, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) - The main cabin crew union at Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) is working with the airline's management to find a way to ease tensions and ward off the strikes that the union has threatened for the end of this week.

The union, UFO, on Monday called for a fresh round of strikes starting on Thursday and Friday and continuing on Monday, if Lufthansa did not show more willingness to deal directly with the union in a long-running and increasingly bitter row over early retirement and pensions.

"We are trying to defuse the situation with Lufthansa management in order to possibly call off the strikes," union head Nicoley Baublies said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that more information would be made available on Wednesday.

The cabin crew union staged a week-long strike, the longest in the carrier's history, earlier this month, resulting in the cancellation of about 4,700 flights.

On the final day of the strike, UFO said Lufthansa must change the way it deals with its staff.

Lufthansa, trying to cut costs to better cope with low-cost rivals in Europe and Gulf carriers on long-haul routes, has also seen a series of costly walkouts by its pilots over the last 18 months.

Last week, in a bid to improve relations with labor, Lufthansa invited UFO and two other unions representing pilots and ground staff to a roundtable to be held on Dec 2 to discuss jobs and pension issues that have caused tension.

In a letter to management in response, the cabin crew union complained that Lufthansa management was communicating via the press, rather than with the union directly, and that Lufthansa had determined the time and topics for the roundtable without discussing it with the other parties.

Lufthansa declined to comment on the new talks on Tuesday.

Lufthansa shares were down 4.5 percent on Tuesday, following other travel stocks lower (.SXTP) in the wake of a U.S. travel alert and as the downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian border added to geopolitical tensions.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin and Peter Maushagen in Frankfurt; Editing by Arno Schuetze and Georgina Prodhan)