Eurowings has finally come to an agreement with the cabin crew union, UFO to end a long-running dispute over pay and conditions at the airline. Jörg Beissel, the Executive Director of Human Resource at Eurowings called the agreement a “collective agreement for growth.”
Germany’s Independent Flight Attendant Organisation or UFO union said it had decided to strike a deal with Eurowings following the collapse of the rival budget carrier, airberlin. In a statement (in German), the union said that everyone had “gone through a huge change of feelings.”
A spokesperson for UFO said that further strike further would simply cause yet more uncertainty and risk the livelihoods of airberlin cabin crew. Eurowings currently wet leases 33 Airbus A320 aircraft from airberlin which includes the use of the airline’s cabin crew. They could well find themselves permanent jobs at Eurowings should airberlin be broken up.
Eurowings is currently in the midst of a huge recruitment campaign for up to 600 new flight attendants. It’s believed the airline has already received hundred of applications – many of which are from serving airberlin staff. If Eurowings and UFO had failed to reach an agreement, those airberlin flight attendants would most likely have been made redundant.
One of the biggest concessions on behalf of the union was to allow new cabin crew hired by Eurowings to enter the company at higher pay grades – effectively allowing new entrants to leapfrog over existing Eurowings cabin crew into management roles. The airline is currently advertising for direct entry pursers at its bases in Vienna, Salzburg and Palma de Mallorca.
In return, Eurowings has agreed to raise the salary for all cabin crew, introduce a collective bargaining agreement as well as a profit sharing scheme and start an employer-financed company pension scheme. The airline has already announced that cabin crew on temporary contracts would be offered permanent positions.
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In a statement, Beissel said of the agreement: “This means that at the right time we are creating a basic requirement – initially among the cabin staff – for establishing and expanding what is currently Europe’s fastest growing airline.”
He continued: “This is a groundbreaking step in light of the fact that we already have several hundred qualified applications. The fast-growing airline recently advertised around 600 vacancies for new crew members at Eurowings and has begun setting up appropriate job interviews.”
Eurowings says the agreement will allow it to offer fair and competitive pay conditions to external applicants.
Cabin crew walked out on several occasions last year at the height of the dispute. In October and November, Eurowings was forced to cancel hundreds of flights as a series of 24-hour stoppages were called. The UFO union called Eurowings’ inability to offer a deal “incomprehensible and absurd.”
The latest deal will be put to union members later this month with a decision expected by the end of September.