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KLM resolves pensions dispute with cabin staff over contribution

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KLM appears to have resolved a pensions dispute with the union for cabin staff after the airline offered the Pensioenfonds voor Cabinepersoneel an additional contribution of €12m.

Commenting on the deal, union VNC cited a “breakthrough” and confirmed that the company had offered “future-proof arrangements without additional conditions” for both staff at KLM and its subsidiary Cityhopper.

Fellow union FNV Cabine said it also supported the deal, which met the unions’ demands.

Annette Groeneveld, the VNC’s chair, said KLM had agreed to raise the contribution from 34% to 40.9%, which she said was necessary to finance the new collective defined contribution plan for cabin staff.

She said the summons the VNC issued against the airline and the pension fund was no longer necessary, but she added that the union did not want to cancel it at this stage, “as we want to be sure KLM does not cut corners in implementing the agreement”.

According to the VNC, KLM unilaterally decided to abandon an agreement that the airline would plug funding gaps.

KLM, however, insisted that it had agreed with unions that shortfalls would be resolved through “natural recovery” – i.e. returns on investments.

The pension fund, for its part, said it would implement the contract – concluded between the airline and the scheme – that failed to provide for a recovery contribution from the company.

As a consequence, the VNC had demanded that KLM and the pension fund produce in court the documents on which they had based the new contract.

The VNC said a resolution of the dispute would be conditional on starting negotiations with KLM on a new collective labour agreement (CAO), focusing on the airline’s plan to reduce the number of staff on flights.

Meanwhile, a separate disagreement over pensions between the airline and its pilots is ongoing.

A court recently blocked KLM from launching a new pension fund for its flight staff in a bid to circumvent the issue of additional contribution.

At the moment, the airline, which terminated its contract for pensions provision with the pilot scheme as of 1 December, is weighing it options.

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