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The larger union representing Cargolux staff, OGBL, is to attempt to push through a new Collective Work Agreement without input from the smaller LCGB.

Last week, LCGB, the more militant of the two unions, announced it would ask its members to vote on industrial action. But OGBL secretary Hubert Hollerich told local media his union could unilaterally sign off the new CWA when the existing agreement expires on December 1.

“It would not be optimal, but we will do so as a last resort,” he said. “We are the majority in the staff delegation, so we can.”

This, however, is disputed by the LCGB and the Luxembourg Airline Pilots’ Association. Its executive secretary, Dirk Becker, told The Loadstar: “The OGBL cannot unilaterally sign a collective work agreement. This has been confirmed by legal advice and by Luxembourg’s l’Inspection du Travail et des Mines (ITM) the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines, which is the governmental body in Luxembourg directly linked to the ministry of labour.

“The deciding factor if a collective work agreement could be signed by only the OGBL is not the number of delegates in the staff delegation affiliated with the OGBL, but the number of votes received in the last valid delegation election. In order for the labour minister to approve the signing of a CWA only by the OGBL, the OGBL would be required to have received at least 50% of the votes in the last delegation election, which took place in August 2011.

“This is not the case as it has been confirmed recently by the ITM. So the labour minister cannot legally approve the signing of a new collective agreement only by the OGBL.”

 Meanwhile, the LCGB continues to be frustrated by the growth of Cargolux Italia, which it accuses of “social dumping”.

Noting that three of the four Italian-registered and piloted aircraft are “routinely dispatched within the Luxembourg route network”, the union said the government was losing $5m in taxes and that management was not acting in the interests of the country.

Cargolux, however, said its Luxembourg operation had grown faster than its Italian one, adding two new aircraft this year and leasing a third.

“We are still hiring staff – crews as well as ground staff – here in Luxembourg and have ambitious plans to increase staff and crew levels in 2016, all of which would be jeopardised by adverse industrial actions,” said the carrier in a statement to media.

“While Cargolux Italia has increased its activities, it should not be forgotten that Cargolux also profits from Cargolux Italia’s expansion, as we are able to open up new markets due to the traffic rights that Cargolux Italia has; commercial traffic rights, for instance to Japan (Osaka and Tokyo) and Russia (Novosibirsk), that Cargolux does not have from Luxembourg.

“With a current market share of 14%, Cargolux Italia’s position as the number-one home carrier in the Italian market shows the importance of developing both airlines in parallel.

“Its low cost and highly efficient production allows Cargolux to continue to fly to financially challenging regions such as Africa with all the positive impact on our global network.”

It argued: “Every single job at Cargolux Italia secures three additional jobs at Cargolux in Luxembourg.”

It did not address LCGB’s claim that Italian aircraft regularly fly on the Luxembourg network.

While LCGB admits that it is “well aware” of the consequences of industrial action, it has been angered by the rejection of its plans for cost-savings of some $10m a year. Saying it had lost faith in the negotiations, LCGB said a strike, which it believes its members would support, “remains the last option to convince Cargolux senior management to return to a constructive negotiating style in good faith”.

Negotiations are due to resume on November 11, and it will hold the vote on any action beforehand.

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