The pilots were the last of the eight unions to agree to an agreement with KLM to compromise terms of employment. The airline and pilots union VNV announced this on Tuesday.
“The minister can now assess whether KLM still fulfills the specified condition,” said KLM. VNV Chairman Willem Schmid added: “It is good that the way is now free for the financial support with which we can steer KLM through the crisis, and it is necessary to restore calm.”
In order to qualify for a second tranche of state aid of EUR 3.4 billion, the Treasury Department wanted KLM to agree with all unions to adjust employment conditions for the expected duration of this aid of five years.
This requirement was explicitly published last week, following which KLM started consultations with all unions on Friday. Agreement was reached fairly quickly with most of the unions. The FNV needed some time for this and the pilots initially didn’t seem to want to sign.
Clause in the agreements
To meet the requirement without repeating the negotiations in full, there is a “commitment clause” included in the agreements between KLM and the unions, explains KLM. “The unions CNV, De Unie, NVLT, VNC and VKP signed this clause on October 31st. FNV Luchtvaart and FNV Cabine also signed this clause on November 2nd.”
On Tuesday, the VNV pilots union was the last to join the list after pressure increased significantly. “KLM gave us insights and connections so that we can now start drawing,” said union chairman Schmid. “This also guarantees the social partners additional leeway to arrive at a responsible and appropriate interpretation in the coming years.”
“The last few days have been incredibly intense for everyone, with great pressure on the company, negative effects on the reputation and the internal departments. But in the end we as KLM and the unions reached an agreement. CEO Pieter Elbers in a statement.
There is still a long way to go
According to Minister Wopke Hoekstra (Finance), the agreement between KLM and the VNV pilot union is an “important and fundamental step” but still “the end of the beginning”. KLM could potentially use the rest of the EUR 3.4 billion loan package, the real work has not yet started, the minister said. “It will take months, maybe years”.
KLM must first work on the plan itself. “But there is still a lot of bad weather on the way,” predicts the minister. Aviation will change so much in the long term that there is still a lot to be done before KLM is a really healthy company again.