Pilots willing to discuss wage cuts lasting 5 years with KLM
KLM pilots are quite willing to discuss wage cuts lasting five years, according to pilots union VNV. The only reason the union refused to sign the deal with KLM, resulting in the government pulling its 3.4 billion euros Covid-19 support package for the airline, is that the deal did not state a fixed term for the wage cuts. "This asked the unions to sign a blank check," Willem Schmid of VNV said to NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
On Friday it became clear that the government did not accept the deal KLM made with the trade unions about reducing salary costs, one of the requirements for the state aid package. In that deal, the airline and all unions agreed to salary cuts until 2022. The Ministry of Finance wants wage cuts to last the full term of the state aid - until 2025.
"We had an agreement between KLM and the unions on October 1, for cuts for two years on average," Schmid said to the broadcaster. "But on Friday we were asked to sign the 'term sheet' between the government and KLM. That is a contract of which the term is unclear and the content a secret. This asked the unions to sign a blank check."
According to Schmid, the proposed term of 5 years' of wage cuts will not be a problem for the pilots. But VNV cannot sign the deal until that term is specifically stated, and until the union knows exactly what agreements the Ministry and KLM made.
"Wage restraint for five years, something like that would be agreed to. That is just very different from singing a contract that we do not know and for an indefinite period," Schmid said.
KLM was not available to respond to NOS.
The Ministry of Finance said on Sunday that it will not speak directly to the unions. The government made agreements with KLM, it is up to the airline to make agreements with its staff. "The ball is in the hands of KLM and the unions," the Ministry said.