Cargolux cockpit crews have decided on a go-slow operation following the terms of their Collective Work Agreement strictly. However, the protest action which started last weekend hasn’t caused any flight pattern disruptions, says Cargolux (CV). In future, Italian crews might be transferred from Milan to Luxembourg to operate some of the classic routes served by the freight airline.
Aloyse Kapweiler makes his union’s point of view very clear. “We basically support growth plans set up by Cargolux’s management but we oppose any of their steps to outsource activities.”
Luxembourg’s LCGB Union’s allegations against Cargolux are nourished by the airline’s decision to transfer a second Boeing 747-400 freighter from Findel Airport to its Milanese subsidiary Cargolux Italia and operate the freighter on some routes served so far by its parent company.
“Resist the beginnings”
That best describes the LCGB’s credo and the union’s appeal to Cargolux’s cockpit personnel to strictly working by rule, thus withdrawing any flexibility beyond the existing Collective Work Agreement. In a release, the unionists detail their position. The paper reads: “Sending a second airplane to its subsidiary, Cargolux Italia gives reasons to the concern that Cargolux management is going down a path of outsourcing and social dumping.” LCGB Secretary Kapweiler refers to the existing ‘Job Security Agreement’ signed by Cargolux and the Grand Duchy’s unions in which the Italian offspring is limited to operate only two Cargolux-owned freighters. Further the contractual agreement determines that CV’s Italian daughter “shall not perform any revenue flying on routes to and from Luxembourg.” This however, is intended, states Kapweiler, who speaks of a clear breach of the agreement.
Flexible and supportive CV pilots
The LCGB Secretary adds to this, that coming next, part of the carrier’s Findel Airport-based Maintenance might be transferred abroad, preferably to Zhengzhou in China where Cargolux is setting up a second intercontinental hub. “Therefore, our recommendation to all CV pilots to strictly comply with the Collective Work Agreement is an act of solidarity for securing the jobs of all Cargolux employees based in Luxembourg, not only those of the cockpit personnel.”
The LCGB acknowledges that Cargolux has always relied on the flexibility of its staff. In the past, Cargolux pilots volunteered to fly during their off day or extended their duties if needed. This willingness has allowed CV to operate with fewer crews than would otherwise have been necessary to keep the freighters in the air. The recently begun “retrieval of good will could likely create network disruptions resulting in considerable delays,” states the union.
CV is facing major challenges
Asked about any operational effects caused by the LCGB action, Cargolux’s CEO Dirk Reich told CargoForwarder Global that there were no delays or flight cancellations. He emphasized that his management hasn’t got any intention to partially outsource the carrier’s maintenance. Although he leaves no doubt that Cargolux’s flight deck personnel must remain or become globally competitive to take their fair share for securing the future of the airline. “We intend to become a global market leader on routes between China and Central Europe,” Dirk states. This can only be achieved if the cost basis coincides with changed market realities.
He adds that there are no plans to take additional freighters out of Cargolux’s fleet and transfer them to the carrier’s Italian subsidiary, as prohibited by the Job Security Agreement. Instead, Mr Reich supports an alternative strategy: Transferring crews from Cargolux Italia to the parent company operating scheduled CV flights to and from Luxembourg Findel Airport. “In Luxembourg the number of crew operating days is limited to 186 days per year. Italian cockpit personnel can basically fly up to 230 days each year,” he says. For some CV served routes the Italian model, which is based on lower fix costs, is better applicable, on other routes the Luxembourg program with its higher share of fix costs works out better, the manager states.
Ready to take the next step
The Collective Work Agreement at Cargolux ends on 31 December this year. “It is my aim to have a follow-up contract endorsed by then.” Tomorrow (Tuesday) Mr Reich will present the employee’s representatives and their unions an initial proposal and recommendations as a framework for a new treaty.
Dirk makes very clear that there will be necessary changes without revealing any specifics. Since times have become rougher “we all have to be ready to move,” to secure the future of the airline and jobs. Having said this he concludes: “This realization, I am convinced, is basically accepted by the majority of our cockpit crews.”