Protests in Luxembourg over jobs and conditions at two airlines

November 16, 2012

Around 1500 workers and their supporters expressed their anger over action set to put jobs at risk and attempts to undermine an agreement at a protest rally earlier this week.

The workers, led by the ITF-affiliated Onofhängege Gewerkschaftsbond Lëtzebuerg (OGBL) and two smaller unions, participated in the rally in front of the parliament building in Luxembourg on 13 November. They were standing up for jobs at cargo carrier Cargolux and passenger airline Luxair; Cargolux is owned by Luxair and the government owns majority shares in both companies. They believe that jobs are at risk following management’s decision to sell off Cargolux shares at a loss to Qatari investors, depleting its own coffers. Maintenance work could also be relocated to the Middle East.
In addition, both companies are determined to scrap the workers’ current collective bargaining agreement and to replace it with a new negotiated settlement, containing significant concessions, including salary cuts, longer working hours and greater flexibility.
The workers’ demands include the safeguarding of Cargolux and Luxair jobs, a rethink about any possible role for Qatar Airways, a commitment not to outsource jobs or relocate services and the preservation of social benefits.
Hubert Hollerich, OGBL spokesperson on aviation affairs, told the demonstrators: “The OGBL is opposed to selling off one of the jewels of the Luxembourg economy to a state that does not know the concept of parliament, trade unions, social dialogue and democracy.”
During the protest, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Laurent Mosar, received a union delegation. ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez took advantage of the opportunity to warn him about the serious concerns the international community has over labour rights in Qatar. These are contained in a formal complaint that the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) has presented to the ILO (International Labour Organization) denouncing serious breaches in international labour conventions in Qatar. The ITUC is developing a campaign against these violations ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup, which is to be held in the country (see here for more details).

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