…or: “When is an agreement not an agreement?”
Conflicting news and views out of Luxembourg this month. The existing Collective Work Agreement (CWA) between Cargolux and its pilots and ground crew expired at midnight on December 1. Negotiations continued, apparently, throughout the last day of November and into the night. The following day, the two sides appeared to have different stories. Cargolux’s triumphant press release, noting a “major breakthrough” and “positive result” was somewhat deflated by a message Cargo Facts received from the Luxembourg pilot association (ALPL), which has been working with the carrier’s LCGB union. The ALPL warned that the airline had been too “enthusiastic” in its release and that negotiations were ongoing.
Negotiations then failed entirely, as the LCGB could not agree on the wording of the new three-year Collective Work Agreement, and both sides issued angry press releases blaming the other for reneging on what had been agreed. Now the LCGB has opted for a “Decree of Non-conciliation,” which allows the union to strike, and means no more formal talks. According to the LCGB, the sticking points are that the CWA does not make an allowance for pilots to be represented by pilots, and (of course) Cargolux Italia, the eternal thorn in the side of Luxembourg pilots.
Both sides reportedly agreed that if there was insufficient growth in Luxembourg after three years, Cargolux Italia would lose one of its four aircraft. But this was not clearly stated in the wording of the agreement, and the pilots wanted it spelled out, to ensure that there would be no varying interpretation of the rules.
Meanwhile, Cargolux responded to Cargo Facts’ question on why management didn’t seem to be very interested in the union’s much-quoted offer to find $10 million in cost savings: “LCGB’s proposed measures that they claim would bring savings of $10m was admitted by the unions to be only an estimate. Whilst we appreciate their effort, the savings are, in effect, significantly lower than the sum presented, and would also largely be offset by extra costs resulting from the union’s proposals,” said a spokeswoman.
So, while just a few days ago labor peace seemed to be at hand, the specter of a strike has risen once again.