On Wednesday morning, the Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation (OGBL) and the Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (LCGB) jointly announced a forthcoming strike on Thursday in response to an unresolved social conflict at Cargolux.

Despite 27 rounds of negotiations and five meetings with the National Conciliation Office (ONC), the trade unions assert that collective agreement discussions have broken down. The key points of contention, as outlined by the trade unions, revolve around a 4% salary increase over a four-year period, a revised salary scale for ground staff, and discrepancies in the implementation of remote work.

Speaking to our colleagues from RTL.lu, LCGB spokesperson Paul De Araujo stressed that "strike action is used as a last-resort measure," adding that "we have always tried to reach an agreement over the course of the negotiations."

When asked what a strike at Cargolux entails, De Araujo explained that the strike will include "the flight crews as well as the entire technical and administrative departments." As a result, the strike will not only affect the operation of planes, "but the whole company."

Cargolux: Trade union demands are 'not reasonable'

Cargolux distributed approximately €85,000 in bonuses to all its employees last year, linked to the company's financial performance (pre-tax) and irrespective of individual job performance. Over the course of three years, the total bonus amount reached €200,000. These figures were presented by Cargolux CEO Richard Forson in response to the demands put forth by the LCGB and the OBGL trade unions.

The trade unions had announced an impending strike at the airline, citing an impasse in negotiations for a new collective agreement. Among their demands, the LCGB and the OBGL called for a linear wage increase of 6% and sought guarantees that wage indexations would be paid out even if changes were made to the scheme by any future governments.

CEO Richard Forson expressed his view that the trade unions' demands were "not reasonable." He also criticised the trade unions for publicly disclosing elements of the ongoing negotiations. Forson clarified that while he proposed protecting employees in cases where the wage indexation system was capped, he did not extend this protection to situations where wage indexation was legally cancelled or postponed. In addition, he offered a 5% wage increase over a span of 5 years, falling 1% short of the trade union's request. Forson contended that certain trade union demands, particularly concerning ground staff, would create disparities among employees.

In 2022, Cargolux reported after-tax profits of €1.5 billion. CEO Forson attributed these robust results to reduced passenger flights and heightened cargo transportation by the company. However, he stressed the need to maintain the airline's financial stability, considering the possibility of decreased profits post-pandemic. He highlighted a 50% decline in the price per kilogramme this year.

Forson expressed concerns that a strike would harm Cargolux's reputation and relationships with customers, not to mention the financial costs associated with such industrial action. "But the trade unions don't seem to care," Richard Forson concluded.