AUA: Transfer of Undertakings Definite

Published: May 1, 2012; 19:55 · (Vindobona)

The re-started negotiations between AUA´s management and the aircrew have finally failed. A mass exodus of pilots is feared.

AUA: Transfer of Undertakings Definite / Picture: © Austrian Airlines

After negotiations between AUA´s management and the works council were taken up again, the prospects to reach an agreement seemed to be promising. Last week, both parties presented a frame agreement. However, heavy resistance among AUA´s workforce arose. The approval by the aircrew would have been necessary. The needed 75% quota was not realistic, though. Above all, the issue of severance payments was unclear. In spite of the referendum, the management board and the works council took up negotiations again. The danger of a negative vote was too high, observers say.

In the end, there was no agreement. The head of the aircrew´s works council, Karl Minhard reported that the management will finally introduce the transfer of undertakings to the subsidiary Tyrolean. Tyrolean´s collective agreement contains substantially lower salaries for pilots.

Minhard said that the time pressure was too big. After the deadline for AUA´s final agreement with the aircrew was postponed several times, CEO Jaan Albrecht was said to be under enormous pressure. After months of heated debates, Lufthansa wanted to see results. According to Minhard, a common solution would have been possible. But negotiations started too late, he said.

Now, many pilots could leave AUA. Before the negotiations started, the trade union announced to file for class actions suits in case of a transfer of undertakings. Albrecht said that AUA would be prepared if pilots decide to leave. The flight operations would be secured. Over the last weeks, 43 pilots left AUA.

In January, AUA terminated the collective agreements of the aircrew. Since then, the transfer of undertakings was threatened by the management. The alternative would have been a cheaper collective agreement. The main issues were the automatic salary increase, the working time and the severance payments. After the failed negotiations, 600 pilots and 1,500 flight attendants are affected by the transfer of undertakings. Their salaries will be cut by up to 25%.

The new collective agreements are the core part of AUA´s austerity package. In 2012, AUA is obliged to cut costs by € 220m. For Lufthansa, the restructuring of AUA has highest priority status. Nevertheless, losses will not be offset this year. Even Lufthansa Group recorded slight losses. Jürgen Weber, chairman of Lufthansa´s supervisory board underlined the importance of the austerity package. “We are not in chaos, but the situation is critical.”

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