Workers’ protest forces Luxembourg airline to respect collective agreement 

Workers and unions are outraged by the action plan for layoffs and other redundancies in Luxair, the flag carrier airline of Luxembourg. Following a protest, the management announced that it would not enact the plan unilaterally

September 21, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Hundreds of workers led by OGBL, LCGB and NGL-Snep protested at the aviation sector tripartite meeting on Thursday. (Image via ZLV.lu)

A massive mobilization of workers on Thursday, September 17, forced Luxair, the flag carrier airline of Luxembourg, to stick with the collective agreement it had made earlier with unions representing workers. Unions, including the Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation (OGBL), Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (LCGB) and NGL-Snep, called the mobilization at Europaplatz in Kirchberg to protest proposed reductions in social benefits of the employees by the Luxair Directorate-General last week. Following the mobilization on Thursday, unions held talks with the government, Luxair, Cargolux and Lux-Airport, and were assured that the collective agreement which expires by the end of this year will not be cancelled unilaterally.

Last week, the unions were informed that the Luxair Directorate-General submitted an action plan for layoffs and other redundancies in the company. These measures include dismantling of careers by abolishing salary advancements linked to seniority beyond 20 years for all employees and beyond 15 years for pilots; wage freeze for 3 years; suspension of payment of the 13th month — end of year bonus —for 3 years; abolition of certain liability premiums; reduction of days of leave to the legal minimum, in particular by eliminating 4 days off and leave linked to seniority; abolition of the gift of 25 years of seniority and of the retirement bonus; reduction to the legal minimum of the rate for night work and overtime; introduction of paid parking for all employees; elimination of the 15-minute paid break; and unilateral flexibility in working hours.

Following the mobilization and tripartite discussions on Thursday, along with the decision to continue the collective agreement till the end of this year, it has been also announced that a new working group will be set up comprising of trade unions, Luxair general management and representatives of three ministries -transport, finance and labor – to analyze the staffing needs for the years 2020–2023. It will also evaluate the proposal by the trade unions to safeguard employment in order to avoid dismissals.

In the run up to the mobilization, OGBL had alleged that “the executive management of Luxair not only scorns the aviation sector tripartite but completely tramples on social dialogue.”

The union further stated that “over the decades, the tripartite model has made it possible to overcome a number of crises in our country’s economy by safeguarding the existence of the employees concerned and the sustainability of the companies and the jobs affected therein. The Luxembourg social model — ‘tripartite’ social model based on an institutionalized and continuous trialogue between the government, employers and trade unions — is the only possible response to the challenges of the current crisis.”

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