Unions formally object to KLM's state aid conditions

A number of trade unions including the largest cabin crew association in the Netherlands, VNC, have signed a joint letter, which was sent to the European Commission objecting against the Dutch government's state aid conditions for KLM.

KLM Boeing 737-800 registered PH-BCE Photo by Andrew Pries | AeroNewsX

At the end of June, AeroNewsX reported that the Dutch government had finalised a financial support package of 3.4 billion euros for KLM. As part of the financial package, the Dutch flag carrier was required by the Dutch government to reduce its costs in addition to reducing the number of night-time flights from 32,000 to 25,000. As part of their agreement with the government the airline will also have to commit to not pay dividends to shareholders or staff bonuses for the “lifetime of the aid.”

The oldest airline in the world is still waiting for the financial aid package to be approved by the European Commission. However, a new joint letter signed by numerous Dutch trade unions on July 9th and sent to the European Commission may delay the financial aid package for the Dutch carrier. The letter claims that the Dutch government's new “mandatory conditions of employment” which are set out in the financial aid agreement between the airline and the government “are contrary to treaties such as those of the International Labour Organization (ILO).”

The letter states that because of these treaties “social partners must be able to negotiate collective labour agreements freely, without government interference.” The letter implies that the Dutch government did not seek approval from the numerous trade unions which represent KLM employees when it finalized the new conditions of employment with the airline. The letter states that “despite repeated requests” with both KLM and the government the trade unions were “no way involved in the realization of the current aid package.”

If the European Commission finds the Dutch government committed “an unauthorized violation of international agreements and regulations,” this could seriously jeopardize the financial aid package for KLM. An employment violation by the Dutch government and KLM could see the financial package delayed or possibly rejected by the European Commission for its possible breach in employment regulations which have been "endorsed by all 27 member states of the European Union."

The unions concluded their letter stating that they “are aware of the particularly difficult situation in which KLM finds itself and the willingness of the personnel to contribute to the recovery from the company. However, this has so far always been in close consultation with the unions and they, therefore, call for joint efforts to find appropriate solutions.” The European Commission received the union’s letter two days ago and did not comment on whether they would take the Dutch unions' letter into account when making their final ruling on the financial support package for KLM.

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