Cargolux to Sue Union LCGB, Demanding High Compensation

The 24-hour strike of LCGB organized pilots against Cargolux (CV) could become expensive for the Luxembourg union and some of its members. Based on a court decision ordering the immediate termination of the action Cargolux will claim compensation for financial damages suffered. Affected by the walkout were seven flights that had to be cancelled.

The LCGB pilot’s action disrupted Cargolux’s operations partially  /  picture: hs
The LCGB pilot’s action disrupted Cargolux’s operations partially / picture: hs

It takes very little to hurt a sensitive industry like aviation severely, causing enormous financial harm, disrupting supply chains, annoying customers.
A practical example was given last Thursday when 16 (!!) LCGB organized pilots out of a total of 450 captains and first officers employed at Cargolux decided to strike rather than performing their duties as required by the existing collective work agreement (CWA) signed by the Cargolux management, members of the works council and representatives of Luxembourg’s two unions OGBL and LCGB.

Breach of a valid treaty
With the disputed but still valid CWA in place, Cargolux concluded that the LCGB’s action was a clear breach of the union’s obligation to refrain from any steps that contravene the treaty. Hence, the carrier’s top management interprets the union supported walkout of their 16 pilot members as illegal and unlawful industrial action. This position is fully in line with the decision of a Luxembourg court taken last Thursday, ordering the immediate stoppage of the strike.

Damage of US$2.5m
Despite this judgment the damage already caused by the action was severe, disregarding the materially not quantifiable loss of reputation. CargoForwarder Global was informed by spokesperson Moa Sigurdardottir that it amounts to US$ 2.5 million, the sum is however referred to as a first estimate.
As a consequence, not only the LCGB will be confronted with compensation claims to be presented shortly by Cargolux. So might also the 16 pilots, who are members of an official organization acting under legal status. This implies that each of the LCGB’s individuals can be held liable for any financial harm caused to the airline.

Lack of safety culture within CV claimed by the LCGB
But why did the LCGB officials incite their pilots in first place to take action against their employer?
In a release the LCGB speaks of an “absence of safety culture” within Cargolux, claiming that the management has no intention of establishing a culture of trust and safety. This is shown by their denial to implement a group for analyzing incidents and reviewing cases of internal disciplinary policy.
The union states: “Given these proceedings, we must conclude that the management still has no intention of addressing the safety risks for the pilots, which has led us to a consultation among our flying members that resulted in a vast majority of pilots in favour of industrial actions.”

“Wing waving” maneuver of 747-8F right after takeoff
“Wing waving” maneuver of 747-8F right after takeoff

Controversial “wing waving”
Among others, the safety concerns addressed by the LCGB relate to a “wing wave” maneuver at Boeing’s Paine Field airport last October when a pilot rocked the big Boeing 747-8F from side to side on its maiden flight right after takeoff to send a good-bye message to the spectators. In comments some of the attendees hailed the “skilled performance,” others criticized the cockpit crew’s demonstration as “extremely risky” and “scary.”
Although issuing an ICAO Annex 13 Type investigation neither the U.S. Aviation Safety Organization nor Luxembourg’s Aviation Authority categorized the “wing wave” incident as severe, emphasizes Cargolux its latest press release.
Addressing the LCGB directly, Mattias Pak, Cargolux’s Head of Aviation Safety, confirms 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,” he assures.

Heiner Siegmund  /  John Mc Donagh

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