‘CLA agreements KLM does not meet the conditions’

Politics30 May ’22 09:59Updated May 30, ’22 at. 12:46AuthorJoelle Baelde

The agreements that KLM wishes to enter into with pilots for a new agreement do not meet the conditions for the state aid that the airline received during the corona period. This is stated by Jeroen Kremers, the state agent who supervises the agreements with KLM, in a council that Minister Sigrid Kaag (finance) has sent to the House of Representatives. Today, Parliament discusses the state’s purchase of new Air France-KLM shares.

‘It’s really very unfortunate,’ says political reporter Leendert Beekman. Today, the house is discussing the purchase of 220 million in KLM shares. But before that happens, the Folketing will talk to state agent Jeroen Kremers from KLM, who is monitoring compliance with the corona support that would be promised if the staff were to surrender. The pilots did not want that at first, but they did eventually. “KLM received corona support, but now it looks like pilots are going to get a little more,” Beekman said.

Document: Insights state agent Jeroen Kremers

According to the political reporter, things are going wrong on “several points”. “From 1 March, the salary for all employees has been increased by 5 percent. The State Agent was not informed of this in violation of the agreements. It does not have to be such a big problem, but when they received the state aid, it was agreed with KLM that they should implement a structural cost reduction of 15 percent. If there is also a wage increase for the pilots, it will be very difficult to implement the structural cost reduction, and the supervisory authority is seriously concerned about this’.

According to Beekman, Minister Sigrid Kaag calls the results ‘fixed’. ‘She will soon be in conversation with KLM.’ He thinks today’s debate will be tough.

JA21 MP Derk Jan Eppink doubts whether Kaag will have a hard time today. ‘It’s about support that KLM has received during the corona era. Then conditions were set. But now, two years later, the labor market looks very different than we thought. One can now see that the labor market is very tight. Schiphol has pursued a low-wage policy, and we have seen what it has led to: enormous chaos. And we must also realize: were the conditions set by the State Agent realistic? ‘

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According to Eppink, we need to look at the conditions set in the light of 2020. ‘2022 is a completely different situation. At the time, we felt that the pilots and staff were much stronger at asking for wage increases. The State Agent must also take a look in the mirror and ask himself: does what I demanded then correspond to the situation now? ‘

Strong debate

‘We are going to have a lively debate,’ says the Member of Parliament. “However, it is very important for the Netherlands’ dominant position in the AirFrance-KLM alliance that these emissions occur.” He continues: ‘You want to prevent KLM from being transferred, abolished or whatever.’

He continues: ‘KLM is a very important part of the economy and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs together with Schiphol. It should be about Schiphol and about Mr Benschop rather than about KLM. There are tears at Schiphol, but as far as KLM is concerned, it looks much better financially than we thought at the time, and if you want to keep such a large airline afloat, you have to enter into alliances and ensure a strong position of power. ‘

KLM is working on a solution

KLM has since responded to criticism of the state agent. In consultation with the unions, the airline hopes to be able to quickly find a solution to the collective agreement problem, especially regarding the already expired agreement with pilots.

In its response, KLM emphasizes that EUR 3.4 billion in aid has been promised, but that KLM has spent EUR 942 million of this. Of this, 311 million euros have now been repaid. In addition, KLM has reduced the ‘controllable costs’ by 30 percent. That is more than the 15 percent agreed.

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The agreement for the flight crew in KLM ran until 1 March this year. The agreements with ground and cabin personnel run until the end of this year. According to KLM, the new agreement for flight crews has been delayed by a critical report from the International Labor Organization ILO on the conditions imposed by the state. According to the ILO, wage agreements should not have been reached without consulting the unions. The organization’s decision was non-binding, but according to the unions that had initiated the case, it sent a clear signal.

The agreement for the pilots will be discussed further in the coming weeks. KLM has also set up a working group with trade unions. A broad solution is being sought in this connection.

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