Only days ago, Luxembourg’s Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (LCGB) agreed to sign a new collective work agreement (CWA), after having surprisingly pulled out of the deal two weeks before (CargoForwarder Global reported). Strangely enough, the union’s u-turn happened despite the fact, that no single word standing in the original CWA text had been changed until their shift of opinion.
Having said this, the question arises why the LCGB officials agree to accept a paper which they had fiercely opposed shortly before. Did money play a role – much money? So it seems.
The entire story must be seen against the background of an LCGB launched strike of Cargolux pilots on July 21, 2015. That day, a group of roughly 35 Captains and First Officers suddenly fell ill, causing disruptions in Cargolux’s flight operations. Aside from the fact that organized collective absenteeism must be borne by the crews that are not participating in any industrial action but willing to fulfill their daily duties, Cargolux’s management went to court in an attempt to stop the strike and make the party responsible liable for the damage caused.
Costly strike action
On 22 July, Luxembourg’s District Court stated in a highly recognized decision that the pilot strike was illegal, allowing Cargolux the right to sue the organizers for the incurred financial losses. In addition, the court issued an injunction that the walkout had to be terminated with immediate effect.
Based on the judges’ favorable decision, Cargolux’s management claimed compensation for the damage caused by Luxembourg’s pilot association A.L.P.L. that is represented by the LCGB in matters related to labour laws. According to Cargolux, the damage caused by the combined A.L.P.L./LCGB action amounted to estimated 2.5 million euros. Paying this sum back would have driven the union and the pilot association to the wall, this even more since the member-losing LCGB is suffering a financial hemorrhage for quite some time now, as credible sources in the Grand Duchy confirmed to CargoForwarder Global.
Union rolls back
Facing a financial disaster and probably its liquidation in case Cargolux would have demanded the payback of the losses caused by the pilot strike, the LCGB together with its associate A.L.P.L. staked everything on one card. This was demonstrated by the union’s step to call off a negotiated CWA deal only some days after it had been agreed upon between the management and Luxembourg’s three unions OGB-L, LCGB and its affiliate CLSC.
Why this sudden backtracking? It’s because of an email sent from Cargolux’s management to LCGB’s President Patrick Dury on December 16, at 8:20 a.m. In their note Cargolux offers the union to terminate the ongoing legal proceeding and renounce the claim for financial damages occurred by the pilot’s illegal strike. The prerequisite for this - it seems - was the signing of the collective work agreement by the LCGB.
At noon that same day the airline published a press releases, announcing that “Cargolux and OGB-L, LCGB and CLSC come to an agreement.”
To put it plainly, the LCGB bid high - and succeeded. The pending legal procedure is off the table, and thereby the financial threat that hung like a sword of Damocles over the union’s head since last July. Their acceptance of the CWA, worth about €2.5 million, should secure the survival of the financially ailing organization. Quite a lucrative deal!
This context they should have made public right after their consent to the CWA deal. Instead, the LCGB and the pilots preferred to put up smokescreens, speaking of substantial concessions made by the management like implementing a “Parity Commission” to settle possible controversial issues between CV pilots and their management. In so doing they knowingly suppress the fact that this commission is subject to further negotiations and its implementation will take months if not years.
CV started hiring new pilots
In the meantime, Cargolux started their training program for new cockpit crews. In total, the airline intends to employ of 100 pilots that will be based at Luxembourg Findel, the main gateway of Grand Duchy’s flag carrier. Out of the 100 applicants, 52 candidates have already been selected. Their qualification will start in January and take until next July. The carrier expects to fill the remaining 48 job vacancies during the first quarter of 2016.
The all-cargo airline points out that the announcement of its staff requirement has led to a remarkable demand by applicants that are eager to become a Cargolux pilot.