Warsaw-based LOT Polish Airlines is canceling flights this week as crew members strike to protest layoffs, demand better pay and working conditions. Nearly 70 flight crew members have been fired for participating in the strike that started Oct. 18.

On Oct. 25, LOT said more than 12 flights, including two long-haul flights to and from Chicago were canceled. Twenty-four flights were canceled Oct. 22 and two on Oct. 23. The airline said some 2,000 passengers were affected by the strike until Oct. 24 alone.

Polish news agency Polska Agencja Prasowa (PAP) reported that LOT called the strike “illegal” and each flight cancellation generated “huge costs.”

LOT, which could not immediately be reached by ATW for comment, reportedly said workers were not responding to an invitation [to negotiate].

Trade union members are demanding the reinstatement of their fired leader and other colleagues.

According to PAP, a pay decision dating back to 2013 put a freeze on hiring to permanent positions, which means new staff are not entitled to paid sick or holiday leave.

The strikes are happening during a time when LOT plans to hire 300 additional pilots for their operational bases in Warsaw and Budapest by the end of 2019.

The state-owned carrier has approximately 700 pilots and 1,300 flight attendants, and is undergoing a rapid fleet development and network expansion.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at