A day after a 24-hour strike disrupted some cargo flights, a breakthrough was reached in what has been an ongoing battle since September 2014 between the management of Cargolux Airlines and Luxembourg’s OGBL, the center-left trade union representing pilots.
The two sides hashed out a new collective work agreement today, stating that newly hired pilots will have more available duty days. Among the other highlights of the deal, Cargolux will cap the number of aircraft to be used at subsidiary carrier Cargolux Italia – a major bone of contention – and will introduce a new profit-sharing system. The new agreement will be finalized and ready to sign by Sept. 16, a year after all the fireworks began.
Cargolux president and CEO Dirk Reich said he was happy to see the parties come to an agreement, while the OGBL’s Hubert Hollerich said the agreement would bring economic and social stability to the company and its employees.
Meanwhile, the other Luxembourg labor union, LCGB (Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Workers), issued a 24-hour “warning action” July 23 against the all-cargo airline, to protest the airline’s use of non-union pilots on some routes. Regardless of the warning, 73 percent of the carrier’s pilots reported for work, and 76 percent of flights operated as scheduled, the carrier said.
Cargolux said the action by the LCGB union was illegal because there was a collective work agreement in place, with active negotiations ongoing to come up with the new agreement. Additionally, Cargolux said LCGB was in breach of its obligation to refrain from compromising a new collective agreement and a court ordered a stop to the action.
Union members have had more than one concern throughout the year. First, was the issue of using non-union pilots to fly regional airlines using larger aircraft, specifically Cargolux Italia. In that case, the OGBL was concerned that, over time, the non-union pilots would eventually take over routes operated by Cargolux pilots because they are paid less. Second, the unionized pilots wanted to raise the number of available crew-duty days to a minimum of 200 per year from the current 186, whereas the Italian crews are working 236 days per year.
Cargolux said that, based on the court order issued July 23, it would claim compensation for the harm suffered as a result of the disruption to its business, and that due to LCGB’s legal status, all of its individual members could potentially be held liable for any damages caused to Cargolux.
The issue of safety practices at Cargolux was brought up by Mattias Pak, Cargolux’s head of aviation safety. “I can confirm that, during 2015, Cargolux has been audited by the DAC, IATA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) and EASA – all these audits have confirmed that Cargolux complies with all applicable regulations and also all safety processes are up to date and following industry practices.”