KLM reaches agreement with unions

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After months of negotiations, Dutch airline KLM finalized a deal with ground crew labour unions on a new collective bargaining agreement overnight. Leadership at the five trade unions will give their recommendations about the new contract before the full membership votes on its approval later this month, KLM said in a statement.

The new contract would have a retroactive start date, and last for 18 months, ending after June 30, 2016. The airline is optimistic the deal will help achieve its reorganization goals, to streamline costs, increase worker productivity and improve efficiency.

By 2020 there will be no mandatory redundancy leave for the staff on the ground, union CNV told broadcaster NOS. Buyout packages will be offered for those who wish to leave sooner.

As a compromise, the union chose dropped demands for a structural wage increase and extra days off for some aging workers.

“This confirms that the unions are prepared to share responsibility and hereby underscore the need to cut costs," said KLM human resources executive Aart Slagt. "These cost-cutting measures are essential in enabling us to keep investing in our combined future in these challenging times. I truly appreciate and respect the flexibility that everyone has shown in these demanding collective labour contract negotiations,” he added.

CNV wants the pilots union and cabin crews to come to terms with the airline quickly, a representative told NOS.

KLM's Perform 2020 reorganiztion plan calls for the airline to better handle point-to-point operations and improve its passenger hub strategy, and to expand the use of its low-cost carrier Transavia. The expansion of that airline was a key sticking point in the resolution of an Air France pilot strike that crippled the French carrier last year. The strike led to the resignation of KLM's CEO at the time, Camiel Eurlings.

Air France-KLM is the parent company of all three airlines.