Exclusive - Collective Work Agreement Set on Track Between OGBL and Cargolux

After months of controversial discussion that more than once had been on the brink of collapsing, Cargolux’s management and Luxembourg’s union OGBL announced last Friday evening that they have reached an accord on a renewed Collective Work Agreement (CWA). Thus, a new phase of trustworthy cooperation between both sides could start which it is said had been lacking in the past.

The accord reached on the new CWA becomes effective next October and covers a period of three years. According to Cargolux’s management the declaration of intent signed by both sides is a “breakthrough” after having discussed this issue time and time again since September of last year.
Now that most of the big points have been clarified a number of details still have to be finalized to meet the aimed date 16 September on which the new treaty shall be signed.
It was an act of mutual giving and taking satisfying both parties in the end. The union succeeded on reaching its most important aim – preserving the labour conditions for the current staff and securing Cargolux jobs in Luxembourg thus preventing the outsourcing of business units and their staff to China, Italy or elsewhere. This is shown, inter alia, by capping the number of freighters operating for Cargolux Italia.

Strong signal to the staff
While sitting on the other side of the negotiation table, Cargolux’s management points out that the accord improves the flexibility and economic efficiency of the carrier, safeguards the competitiveness of Luxembourg as main logistics hub in Central Europe and sends a strong signal to the employees in respect of their job security.

Internal climate change
Together, both sides hope that the agreement will better the climate within the company, leading to more togetherness instead of working against one another. 
Here are the major points both sides agreed on, which include some benefits for the carrier’s cockpit personnel:

  • Cargolux will offer significantly more part-time contracts leading to improved work/life balance of existing staff on the ground and in the air.
  • Newly hired pilots will have more available duty days leading to improvement in productivity of flight operations.
  • The implementation of the new European Flight Time Limitations will also increase flexibility and productivity.
  • New pay scales will apply for new crews and ground staff and the 13th month salary to be fully paid after 5 years with CV, leading to an improved cost situation.
  • Shift personnel will continue to benefit from paid lunch breaks.
  • Harmonized travel and hotel policy across ground and flight crews shall ensure equal treatment.
  • The number of aircraft operating for Cargolux Italia will be capped.
  • The company will introduce a new profit share system to increase employee participation.
  • The company will introduce an enhanced fidelity premium package 
  • The plans for a time unit freeze were abandoned.
OGBL’s Hubert Hollerich praises the breakthrough…
OGBL’s Hubert Hollerich praises the breakthrough…

OGBL’s Hubert Hollerich comments:  “This agreement will bring economic and social stability to the company and its employees.”
Dirk Reich, Cargolux President & CEO adds to this: The agreement “will not only strengthen Cargolux’s position as a leader of the airfreight industry, it will also secure present and future jobs in Cargolux and will give our customers the certainty that Cargolux shall be a very reliable, flexible and highly competitive airfreight partner in the next decade, well positioned to outperform intensive global competition.”

OGBL criticises strike action against Cargolux
Prior to signing the declaration of intent on the new CWA, CargoForwarder Global had asked the OGBL, Luxembourg’s largest union to deliver their view on the allegations and their strike action initiated by Letzebuerger Chreschtleche Gewerkschaftsbond / Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions – LCGB. The answer given by Hubert Hollerich, responsible for aviation matters at the OGBL is very clear: “We do not see any safety risk within Cargolux. Furthermore, at the time of the pilot’s action we were close to reaching an accord with Cargolux’s management on a renewed Collective Work Agreement after lengthy and controversial discussions. In face of this situation industrial actions could have damaged the negotiation atmosphere and prevent building confidence.”

It does not stop there
The Executive Board of the Luxembourg Pilots Union (ALPL) came out late Friday afternoon with their own press release regarding the above mentioned pilot’s action.
The union which claims to represent the interests of over 500 professional pilots in Luxembourg, states that the ALPL has never called Cargolux pilots who are members of its union to  engage in any strike action.
The release, expressing a sense of group solidarity, is not very complimentary of the CV management when stating “it is very unusual in the opinion of the ALPL that Cargolux qualifies totally legitimate worries of its pilots as a smeary campaign.“ The statement goes on to say that “the reaction by Cargolux is an example of how weaker management reacts when faced with trust and safety issues.”
It’s interesting to note that the ALPL in their release also state that the comments by the LCGB about total irresponsible management are not completely unwarranted.
The ALPL finalizes by saying "that the individual pilot is in the last line of defense in the safety of each flight and bears the ultimate responsibility.”

It seems that this discussion is doomed to go on for some time, but it is good to see that the parties concerned have reach accord on the Collective Work Agreement.

A step by all in the right direction.

John Mc Donagh  /  Heiner Siegmund

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