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Unions Protest Against AUA´s Plans

Published: January 12, 2012; 12:44 · (Vindobona)

Austrian trade unions are strictly against new austerity measures at Austrian Airlines. Management wants to negotiate over new collective agreements.

Unions Protest Against AUA´s Plans / Picture: © Austrian Airlines

The new CEO of AUA, Jaan Albrecht, is forced to cut expenses further. In 2011, the turnaround could not be reached. AUA´s holding company, German Lufthansa, becomes impatient with AUA´s restructuring. For Albrecht, the cost structure of AUA is not competitive, Above all, personnel costs would be too high, as wages and salaries would rise automatically.

In 2011, losses reached € 64m, which was the same level of 2010. Initially, AUA was expected to achieve operating profits last year. In 2011, AUA carried 11.26 million passengers, which is a rise by 3.4% against 2010. Capacity utilization was lower by 3.1% however.

Now, Albrecht wants to negotiate over new collective agreements with the works council. Albrecht announced radical reforms for all collective agreements in AUA. Albrecht talked about “expensive legacies”. However, trade unions are strictly against another wage cut. Last year, staff had to accept a 5% cut for the next five years. Besides that, staff was reduced by 1,500 employees.

For the trade union, there is no reason for a re-negotiation. “There are already agreements, running until the end of 2012. If the CEO wants to talk, he can invite us or not. Nevertheless, there is nothing to cut anymore. From our point of view, there is absolutely no reason to negotiate.”, the Vice-President of the trade union commented. “On January 20, there will be a works meeting. Then, we will express our positions very clearly. We are not afraid of conflicts.”

The head of AUA´s works council, Alfred Junghans, said: “We won´t accept that only staff has to accept cuts in order to restructure AUA.” The union does not threaten with strikes. However, single protests are not excluded. Karl Minhard from the works council was more moderate: “I also think that this could be the last chance for AUA. However, the package what we currently have is the same that has already been proposed by former CEOs.” For Minhard, all managers evaded necessary structural reforms. “The structures must be changed. We have two administrative bodies. One in Tyrol and one in Vienna. We have two independent maintenance enterprises for this small company. This is not necessary.“

For Minhard, the works council would be prepared to negotiate with AUA´s management. However, nobody talked to the works council yet. The trade union cannot make proposals in the public how to lower costs, Minhard explained.