Cargolux unions battle each other

Cargolux 747-400F noseloadingLuxembourg’s LCGB union, which represents some of the pilots at all-cargo carrier Cargolux, undertook a “24-hour warning action” today, grounding one-quarter of the airline’s flights. But while Cargolux and its unions have been in seemingly non-stop conflict for over two years, today’s mini-strike is more complicated than just another skirmish in a long-running battle.

The Cargolux pilots are represented by two unions, the LCGB and the OGBL. The LCBG, some of whose members conducted the strike, represents a smaller share of the pilots, while the members of the larger OGBL stayed on the job.

And more than just stayed on the job – in fact, the OGGBL has publicly stated that it is making good progress in negotiating a new Collective Work Agreement with the company and views the LCBG action as negative. In an interview in The Loadstar, OGBL union secretary Hubert Hollerich said: “We don’t agree with the LCGB’s approach. The OGBL is not participating because we are actually in a negotiation process for the new Collective Work Agreement (CWA). How can you build up trust by industrial action? The OGBL does not agree with the arguments of LCGB.”

Where this inter-union dispute will end is unknown, but Cargolux management has come out swinging. It has taken matter to court and says it has won an injunction requiring the union to end the strike. Late this afternoon (Central European Time), Cargolux issued the following statement:

Cargolux statement on LCGB industrial action Luxembourg, 23 July 2015 – Luxembourg’s LCGB union has begun a 24-hour warning action against Cargolux Airlines that started in the early hours of Thursday, 23 July. Despite this action, 73% of the Cargolux pilots reported to work and 76% of the flights are operating normally.

The LCGB action is illegal. There is a valid Collective Work Agreement in place, with the parties actively negotiating towards a new agreement; and there is no dispute where non-conciliation has been declared. With its action, LCGB is in breach of its obligation to refrain from any act that could compromise the loyal execution of the collective agreement. Earlier today, a court ordered the immediate stoppage of the action.

LCGB’s unlawful industrial action and its ongoing negative campaign against Cargolux are based on misleading statements, deceiving not only the public but also Cargolux’s employees and LCGB’s own members.

Based on today’s court order, Cargolux will claim compensation for the harm suffered as a result of the disruption to its business. Due to LCGB’s legal status, all of its individual members could potentially be held liable for any damages caused to Cargolux.

On the issue of safety, used by LCGB as justification for their warning action, Mattias Pak, Cargolux’s Head of Aviation Safety, recently appointed as Group Safety Officer, gives the additional following statement:

“Regarding LCGB’s accusation in respect to safety culture and its mentioned examples, I would like to clarify some issues. Cargolux’s internal process calls for a structured investigation to be done in case of an event. For the wing wave, the Aviation Safety Department issued a full ICAO Annex 13 Type investigation even though neither the FAA/NTSB nor the Luxembourgish authorities categorized it as such severe. The final report was presented to the Luxembourg Civil Aviation Authority (DAC) and accepted. Employee representatives were also debriefed on the report and acknowledged it. All recommendations of the report were accepted by the responsible departments and implemented.

Additionally, during a process of more than one year, a Just Culture policy was created following industry standards. During this process, delegation members were part of the team and a joint agreement was achieved last year. The policy became effective on January 1st, 2015 – 11 months ahead of the EU requirement of having a Just Culture policy in place. In order to enhance the Just Culture process, during the last month, the composition of the Event Review Group (ERG) has been discussed internally and it was agreed that front line personnel would become a part of this group in the near future.

Our safety reporting system, which has been in place since the 1990s, is there for staff to report their concerns in regard to safety issues. We encourage all our staff to use this system to report any safety weaknesses and hazards to allow the organization to implements actions to reduce the risk.

I can confirm 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.”

One thought on “Cargolux unions battle each other

  1. On 24 July, one day after the above story was posted, Cargolux announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the OGBL union on the main points of a new collective work agreement.

    We will post details on Monday — by which time we hope there will have been a response by the LCGB union.

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