Pilots union prepared to talk about KLM pay cuts to secure bailout

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

KLM pilots are prepared to talk about wage moderation for a five year period, Willem Schmid, chairman of the Dutch pilots’ union VNV told NOS radio on Monday.

On Friday, it became clear that the finance ministry did not consider the agreements reached between aviation unions and KLM on cost cutting – a key part of the government’s rescue package – went far enough.

The original agreements for pay cuts lasted until 2022, but finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said instead that he wanted a five-year agreement, covering the entire period of the Dutch government’s support plan.

Most of the KLM unions agreed to the plan but the pilots proved a sticking point, threatening the entire deal. They said the lack of transparency from the government about the terms was effectively a ‘blank cheque’.

KLM has already had some €1bn from the government in the form of wage support and is due for a further €2.4bn in loans and guarantees to tide it over the coronavirus crisis.

‘Wage moderation for five years, we can make agreements about that,’ Schmid said. ‘But that is a completely different thing to singing a contract we don’t know anything about for an undefined period.’

KLM has not yet reacted to the statement and the finance ministry has said that it is up to unions and the airline to reach agreement on the efficiency drive.

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