Cargolux appears headed for a strike

After more than a year of negotiations, pilots for all-cargo carrier Cargolux appear to be headed toward a strike after the Collective Work Agreement (CWA) expires at midnight on Monday, 30 November, according to the unions representing the pilots.

Statements released today from the LCBG union and the Luxembourg pilots association (ALPL) made a last-minute appeal to Cargolux shareholders, urging them to pressure Cargolux management into accepting a new CWA during tomorrow’s scheduled meeting of Cargolux’s Board of Directors. At the same time, LCBG and ALPA are also preparing for a possible industrial action by asking members of the international pilots’ association, IFALPA, to assist Cargolux to be supportive when asked by their airlines to provide additional flights to meet the capacity demands created by a dispute at Cargolux.

A particular bone of contention for Cargolux’s pilots remains the issue of subsidiary carrier Cargolux Italia, which the pilots say is operating wet-lease flights for Cargolux Airlines International to and from its main base in Luxembourg. The pilots have said the practice constitutes “social dumping,” or the gradual replacement of workers with cheaper labor. The Cargolux pilots have been concerned since a meeting this past March about the Italian arm taking over higher-paying routes run by Cargolux through Luxembourg.

LCGB proposed a US$10 million personnel cost savings package for Cargolux, 90 percent of which will be bourne by the airline’s current and future pilots. “The offered savings package aims at a revised cost structure and would enable Cargolux management to forego the outsourcing of aircraft and the associated flight deck employment,” the union said. “Not only would management hereby satisfy the unions´ core claim in the ongoing negotiations, but it would also further assure that the Luxembourg State retained tax revenues and social insurance contributions worth up to € 5 Million per year.”

The statement went on to say that, “if no acceptable agreement for both ground staff and pilots can be found, industrial actions can no longer be avoided.”

In a response, Cargolux said it “remained confident” that an agreement can be reached that will assure job security for LCGB members, provided that the union abandons its requests for additional flight time limitations. Such limitations, the airline said, “would result in inferior productivity of Cargolux crews in comparison to all other European carriers using the standard European Flight Time Limitations (EASA FTL).” LCBG, Cargolux stated, “has to show their willingness’ and commitment to accepting management’s position, specifically in respect of Cargolux Italia and the EASA FTA. Once agreed, we have no doubt that all of the remaining issues can be resolved within a short period of time.”

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