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Balpa & Klm-uk

Old 26th Sep 2002, 10:51
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Question Balpa & Klm-uk

Are the KLM-UK drivers happy with the way BALPA is representing them in their talks about the future in KLM, KLC-UK, or BUZZ?
I wonder if any UK-driver likes to comment on this, since VNV /DALPA tells us that the deal presented has widespread backing by UK-drivers and BALPA.

I wonder if that is really the case or not.

Greetz, QTA.
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Old 26th Sep 2002, 12:10
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There are certainly a lot of worried pilots at my base. Big changes are due to occur on 1 NOV & there are huge concerns by the pilots on no end of topics, not least job security, pensions, bases, equal pay & terms & conditions. Our union (BALPA) called for this date to be put back due to Company stalling tactics during meetings but to no avail. This led me to believe there would be a ballot for industrial action to make the company treat our concerns with some respect, but with only weeks to go nothing has happened. Consequently a lot of us are very worried and are wondering what is going on, as there has been no news of any breakthroughs yet in any of the issues that are unacceptable to us! There is no wide-spread support for anything but industrial action from all the pilots I'm flying with & a lot are thinking of moving companies as they don't see a decent future for themselves in the new company!

Could you please show this misinformed info from the VNV/DALPA as I'm sure a lot of my colleagues would be interested in it?
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Old 27th Sep 2002, 11:17
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Is this an example of what happens when a small company gets taken over by a big one - ie Air Uk/KLM. Those that worked for the small company can sometimes end up getting a raw deal.
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Old 27th Sep 2002, 14:02
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Can you elaborate on the raw deal please?

I am a colleague at KLM. The discussions on this topic date back to April of this year on pprune. I realize that my perception is tainted by my position. But could you please explain how KLM uk pilot are getting a raw deal? If I understand the proposed deal, there are three options for the current KLM uk pilot workforce. I donít know all the ins and outs, but from communications from our union VNV these are the options as I read them:

1) The KLM uk pilot, goes through the procedure to join KLM mainline. He/She joins bottom of the list as of 01-01-2003. He/She retains their present position, but work under the KLM pilot collective bargaining agreement. No later than 01-01-2005 they will have to occupy a position at KLM mainline in line with their seniority position. It is the assertion of the VNV that only a relatively small number of pilots from KLM uk will take this route.
2) They join a new company called KLC uk. Same pay and conditions as before. The operation will be integrated into KLC, so mixed flying of crews. As of a certain date, no new pilots will be taken on by this new company. This new company will operate Fokker 50/70/100 from its base in England throughout all of Europe through Amsterdam. At any time these colleagues will be able to transfer to BUZZ. Of all pilot positions at KLC 1/3 will be set aside for KLC uk pilots. This is commensurate to the present fleet numbers. Also part of the deal is that the present relative percentage of Captains Fokker 70/100 at KLC uk will be retained. The VNV expects most of these pilot to eventually transfer to BUZZ.
3) The colleague at KLM uk transfers to BUZZ.

I am sure that a lot of the KLM uk pilots are very disappointed to say the least at their companyís change in name and strategy. Not many of us want this kind of upheaval in our lives. But I believe that the new path also offers some good prospects. From what I hear KLM has a solid growth plan for BUZZ. I donít know what the pay and conditions are at BUZZ in relation to KLM uk, but growth means a lot of new positions. I would assume the old guard will be able to finish their careers at KLC uk in the way they had planned. For the people in the middle to lower end of seniority at KLM uk, BUZZ could offer good career prospects. And for the adventurous ones a change to KLM might be of interest. You are more than welcome. And who knows where that could take you. Finally I assume that KLM uk looses a number of its pilots each year to the scheduled and charter airlines in the UK, and that will continue to happen at all the new entities. So all in all I think the package is balanced. Breaking open the seniority list at KLM would have meant the end of the VNV in my opinion. This is the first international merger of operations that I know of at a major. This is the deal on the table. This what the VNV has communicated to us. What has BALPA told you guys?

And as a frame of reference how is the integration of the regional operation into BA going. Are the regional pilots getting a better deal over there?

Regards, O.
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Old 27th Sep 2002, 18:56
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A most informative reply Otterman. I was asking if Uk guys were getting a raw deal - not saying they were, as I dont know. Should be interesting to see what the Fokker 50/100 drivers have to say.

There is still much work to be done before Buzz can grow and be seen a success anything like easyjet, Go or Ryanair, but signs seem to be reasonably encouraging based on this summers passenger figures.
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Old 27th Sep 2002, 22:29
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Otterman, I will try to answer your queries as best I can. Firstly KLM mainline. Nothing personal but I and most of my colleagues don't want anything to do with mainline, your bases are in Holland and we all live in Britain because we're British. I would no more consider working in Holland as you would Germany or France or Russia. I joined a British company called Air UK many years ago & never once did I ever plan on moving abroad. Secondly, integration into KLC, 1/3 positions in KLC is not a fair representation of the size of KLM uk, we are bigger than that, it just makes time to command for our FO's that much longer. There has been no guarantees to us over what happens to us at our base if our aircraft is pulled out, are we then expected to move to AMS. We have a final salary pension, we have not had that guaranteed yet either. As for moving to Buzz, we have to indicate our desire to move in the next few weeks or the option is withdrawn, all this without any Buzz business plan released to us. Are they expanding? are there any new bases( a lot of us live hundreds of miles from the only current Buzz base at STN)? what are the new terms & conditions going to be ( currently we all share the same T & C's but they are not deemed suitable for a low cost operator)? Why can't we stay one pilot force & just be seconded to KLC or Buzz? Also we are told there will no longer be any UK recruitment, as we can't join the VNV that means ex KLMuk pilots under BALPA just become a smaller & smaller group until the management can just dictate any changes to our T & C's or pension etc & we are not big enough to do anything about it. How would you like to be shown a plan for your own extinction?
Believe me Otterman, we are very worried!
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Old 28th Sep 2002, 17:00
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Otterman, that position in mainline KLM you are referring to as "in line with their seniority position". Is that after they've thrown away their seniority by joining KLM at the bottom of the list? Or will their KLM UK seniority be taken into account?

Just curious, there's a topic on Seniority lists in the terms and endearment section.
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Old 28th Sep 2002, 18:28
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Short answer is yes. A KLM UK pilot transferring to KLM would go bottom of the list as of 01-01-2003. They would have to take up a position that matches their seniority by 01-01-2005.

As Merseyview already mentioned not many KLM UK pilots are expected to take this route. Most probable for the junior or younger pilot. Within KLC UK things stay the same, in that you keep what you have. Just no new pilots will be hired into this company, and 1/3 of the positions within KLC remain reserved for KLC UK pilots. New pilots will be hired by KLM mainline, and automatically be on the KLM list and would be assigned to fly for KLC. KLC UK would over time become an empty shell, with all its former pilots at BUZZ, KLM, retired, or they will have left for another airline.

As MerseyView mentions KLM has not presented its plans for its low-cost subsidiaries. We were just told that on October 2, 2002, our CEO would brief the unions on what is in store. Looks like BUZZ is going to be a sizable airline, and the thinking is that most of the KLM UK pilots will take that option. I hope all my colleagues at KLM UK find a good spot.

And no MerseyView I would not be pleased if I found myself in the situation you find yourself in. I hope for those who wish things remain the same as far as T & C's go. KLM UK has been static for a number years now, and the plans as they are presented at least show a way forward for the company as a whole.

I don't know what KLM's future will be. Are we to become BA mainland, Air France North, is the Sabena demise our future, or can we join a global grouping on our own strength? I can't control these things. I just keep paying my union dues and hope for the best. What kind of impact this deal has on what is to come will make itself known in due time.
Regards, O.
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Old 28th Sep 2002, 20:07
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Otterman; as far as i am concerned it is one rule for one and one for another! when KLC was integrated into KLM they got at least 1/2 seniority some got full seniority which i understand caused subsequent problems, you CANNOT therefore expect KLMuk pilots to accept anything less than their Dutch counterparts.

I find it unbelievable and typically arrogant that the VNV and KLM can negotiate a deal to integrate KLMuk pilots WITHOUT consulting OR involving the very people it effects most i.e KLMuk pilots!! the deal that you you have quoted is the one worked out by KLM and the VNV, we the KLMuk pilots have accepted NOTHING and will negotiate our own deal thank you very much and if that involves industrial action then so be it!

A 1/3 ratio??? where the hell did that come from!!! KLMuk is roughly the same size as KLC therefore a 1 to 1 command ratio should be the only option.

We are being royally shafted in all ways, believe me i think KLM has stirred up a hornets nest and our sting is going to hurt!!
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Old 28th Sep 2002, 22:52
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A good discussion with some informed replies. As a KLM uk driver, I agree with all comments posted by my colleagues. Morale is low....really low at present over the perceived shafting that we are all expecting. Otterman has given a thorough grounding on what has been offered as a career path, but as yet, nothing has been accepted or agreed- at least by the KLM uk pilots. I am aware that the VNV and KLM have made their own agreements on how WE are to be integrated. If only the management were as forthcoming to OUR union (BALPA) as they clearly have with the VNV, we might now be in a position where we could vote on a deal. Instead, the Management have stalled and provaricated so that we are being pushed closer and closer to the deadline of Nov 1st. In my opinion, we have exhausted all routes of negotiations and industrial action is the only option left to us.

Mention is made of most pilots expected to transfer to Buzz. This was possibly the expected intention, but recent developments communicated to me have imposed conditions which more or less make a transfer from KLCuk to buzz impossible. It has been proposed that the pilots can transfer to buzz at a rate sustainable by training of up to 48 per year. However, if a pilot transfers to buzz, they will do so keeping their seniority number (useful for getting leave etc.) but will go onto the LOWEST pay increment for their rank. This would mean that a captain with ten years seniority would by over £15K worse off per annum. Hardly a good offer. Also they would have to be considered as new starters for terms and conditions such as whatever pension is negotiated. Clearly, this will need to be seriously discussed by BALPA but in my opinion, if this is to remain then it will be unworkable. The only option for many will be a court case for constructive dismissal.

The potential of transfer to KLM is a good one and previously unheard of. However, it is really only of benefit to those who are (a) young enough or (b) junior enough as it will be an extremely long time to reach even a left seat of a 737. Consequently, the take up rate will be low. Present captains can expect to be demoted at some point until they accrue anough seniority in Mainline to regain their command.

Remember, we have pilots with 25 years seniority in our company which was taken over by KLM (something no-one wanted). They will now be more junior than the most recently qualified 20 year old Co-Co! Something to look forward to.
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Old 29th Sep 2002, 04:04
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So the VNV has "worked out" a deal for the KLM UK pilots, and not even discussed it with them? No!!!??? Not the VNV!!!!
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Old 29th Sep 2002, 10:02
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Driver1. In previous posts on this subject you have been one of the more moderating voices. So it makes me appreciate the emotion that much more. I reread most of what you have written on pprune.

In previous topics I have explained the situation (and major differences) between the KLC/KLM integration and what is happening now. KLC pilots already had a fixed right to transfer. Some crucial alterations were done to this original clause and it has left an open sore that has festered for six long years now. KLM and the VNV have no deal in place that allows other pilots from other subsidiaries to take seniority with them when they transfer to KLM mainline. KLM UK is not the only airline that KLM owns or controls. A pilot from Transavia or Martinair takes with them no seniority when he joins KLM. So this is not a situation of the ďarrogantĒ Dutch mistreating the ďforeignĒ KLM UK pilot group.

As far as KLM and the VNV negotiating a deal that involves KLM UK without involving its pilots. From my understanding BALPA was involved and consulted every step of the way. We as KLM pilots were also not involved, our union did the negotiating. BALPAís involvement means the same thing to me. If they would see showstoppers they would probably have told the VNV. Or maybe there is a hidden agenda at BALPA, but that is between you and your union. Wouldnít harm the majority of BALPA members if there were industrial unrest or worse at KLM UK?

That is where I think KLM UK pilots will have to look. BALPA is your representative. They are there to negotiate all the ins and outs that are involved in whatever choice is made. I think it more than reasonable that you at least keep what you have, but BALPA is the one that can make that clear to KLM. We were told that BALPA was not unhappy with the deal.

The deal between KLM and the VNV encompasses many more parts than the KLM UK situation. I realize for its pilots it is by far the most important section. But it is but a tiny part of a whole range of issues.

For the 25-year veteran at KLM UK I donít think much changes. He can just stay at KLC UK and fly out his career. On top of that his options widen. For the senior First Officers a transfer to BUZZ could see quick advancement. And for the junior person the same applies or a transfer to KLM mainline might be more interesting. I canít imagine a 25-year veteran switching to KLM, he could have moved to a UK airline a long time ago. So the analogy of that veteran being junior to a 21 year old in theory is right, but in practice not realistic.

One of my original questions still stands. How is the integration of the BA regional pilots going into the BA mainlist? Are the BA regional pilots getting full or partial recognition for years of service?

Sorry for the length once again, but I canít seem to get my point across with less words. Maybe not even with this many.

Regards, O.
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Old 29th Sep 2002, 17:28
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How would a KLM mainline pilot feel if, for example, you were taken over by Lufthansa at some stage in the future and placed on the bottom of the Lufthansa seniority list?

How would a KLM mainline pilot feel if he was then told he would be transferred, in the next two years, to a position within Lufthansa appropriate to his 'new' seniority?

Oh, and by the way, you have to relocate to Frankfurt.

Otterman, I am sure you are a smashing bloke, but their is just a hint of arrogance in your posts in what is a very sensitive subject.

So much for a united Europe!
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 05:32
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Wink

Let's hope you all don't go through what most TWA pilots are at this time, in the US. American Airlines/ Merger Committee (the AA union is APA), put most of the TWA pilots (ALPA union) below almost every pilot with American. Soon, about half of all TWA pilots will be on furlough-going back to hire dates around '93 or '94. AA's Merger Committee seems to rationalize this by pointing out the very bad financial conditions at old TWA, and the slim chances given TWA's survival by market analysts-as if it were the pilots' fault (they had given up around 40% of salaries to help it survive Carl Icahn's assaults upon corporate funds and his "rights" to all profits from 20% of airline's ticket stock-he owned this amount...). Certain TWA aircraft removed from flying, suggested by certain APA east coast LEC members, might have allowed even more American pilots to move to the captain's seat.

Nice way to treat your buddies. Much ignorance and arrogance were displayed by some of our people in a merger years ago.

Seniority is their mantra, when one former airline is allowed to exploit the other group. With a merger, under US law the resulting corporate entity is actually a very different entity. This means nothing to those trying to steal your captain (or FO) seat.
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 07:47
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Indeed it is, along with whatever other working practices and privileges they have established, regardless of how archaic or discriminatory they may be. If retaining them means sacrificing others they will do it.
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 08:36
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Wetpower, your analogy is a bit wide of the mark. A transfer to KLM is not the only choice open to the KLM UK pilots. For the most senior people this is not the way they are going to go. In my previous posts I have explained the three choices open to a KLM UK pilot. Your seniority position with KLM UK has a huge impact on your choice.

No one is set to lose their jobs. The way I understand it switching from KLM UK to KLC UK would not involve all that much change, please tell me if I am wrong. In the least BALPA is responsible for making sure that there are no changes in T & Cís at KLC UK compared to KLM UK. This takes care of the senior people. It is true that there will be no growth at KLC UK, but like KLM that hasnít been the case at KLM UK for a long time.

The other two choices offer another way forward. If a person switches to BUZZ it could mean fast advancement, and a switch to KLM is another option.

And as Ignition Override mentions things can be done a lot differently as well. KLM pilots are not taking away any seats from KLM UK pilots. No Captains going to KLC UK will be put back in the right seat.

I am acutely aware of the sensitivity on this subject. I realize that whatever I say is weighed down by my position at KLM, and the term arrogant is within easy reach. I wish my colleagues at KLM UK nothing but the best.
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 08:45
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Cool

To answer Otterman:

I think he is asking a rhetorical question!!

The Regional integration into BA is not happening at all! In spite of negotiation about scope, there is NO move either from BALPA, or any set of management to bring the Regional side of things onto BA Ts and Cs and seniority list. For some reason, we do not get treated like the last acquisition of BA, that of CityFlyer Express. Instead, the management are imposing a new set of Ts and Cs, which they describe as being the best of the old Brymon and BRAL combined - except it isn't! There are a large number of sweetheart deals around, great outcry from the trainers, and the turboprop boys, as ever, are being royally shafted. The Final Salary scheme has now been closed to new entrants, and management refuse to give any assurances about its future for existing members. We have just been given new contracts to consider, except that there is a strange clause in the contract which gives the Company the ability to change any of it at any time, yes, I jerk you around not! Movement onto the BA master seniority list with its attendant Ts and Cs can currently only be done by normal application and interview. That is beside the point that we currently have 50, yes 50 ex-BA cadets working for us. These guys were told they no longer had a contract with BA after 9/11, due to hiring freeze. Our BA commandant, a Mr de la Foss, told us they were joining us as normal guys, bottom of OUR seniority list, on OUR Ts and Cs. We were saving them from the dole, he said, they had no further connection with BA, he said! Surprise, surprise now it turns out by a 'mistake' they were never issued Regional contracts. It seems that now, a year down the line, BA has decided to call them back (though they remain working for US) , and awarded them mainline Ts and Cs, and, to add insult to injury, they have been drawn into the BA final salary scheme, a benefit denied to many colleagues who were in the Regional Operation before and after them!!!!

Funnily enough, the Scope issue, described and discussed at length in another thread, seems to actually start BELOW the levels of some jets we already operate, and it seems from proposals 'leaked' out of the BALPA guys that we may actually not be able to progress to our own aeroplanes in the future. There is/was an attempt to put JUST our 146/RJ guys on BA Ts and Cs, but this has gone quiet at the moment. The actual operational integration is a complete shambles, making one ashamed to work for this airline at the moment.

The conclusion or message to the KLM uk guys is to fight every last friggin clause, don't believe a single word that management tell you, but when it comes down to it, and you prepare to grip your ankles and grit your teeth - have a jar of vaseline ready!
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 11:33
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Well well, I am happy with the way this lead is developing. I was afraid that the simple statement in the VNV that the KLM-UK pilots were relativly happy with this deal, was not really correct.
That is why I wonder what BALPA is going to do for all those pilots, who see their way of living being disrupted.

Offcourse VNV does not represent the KLM-pilots ( yet?). But the way KLM and VNV arrange this merge, can have a lot of future implications.

I am also very much worried about what will happen next. I hope BALPA will be strong enough to get the best possible deal for you guys.

Good Flying! QTA.
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 12:05
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Question

Otterman a question


When one of Europeís big three buys KLM (and in the consolidating world of airlines that is less than five years away) are you happy to go to the bottom of their list?
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Old 30th Sep 2002, 15:14
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xyz_pilot. Again the short answer of course is no, I would not be happy to go bottom of any list. But that is but one of the choices we are talking about in this case.

This is not a new thought for us at KLM. It has been part of our landscape for a long time. Consolidation is something that will probably happen. Donít know if your time frame of five years is as hard as you state. A lot is involved before we can get to that point. For some reason aviation is still not treated as a ďnormalĒ business. Otherwise consolidation would have occurred many years ago. National sentiments, bi-laterals, and a host of other complicated issues hold this consolidation back. Even the bastion of free enterprise is helping out its airlines with unheard of amounts of dollars.
In my fifteen years at KLM I canít remember a government cash infusion into KLM, of course we have not yet found ourselves in such dire straits. The American carriers need this cash to survive, but it shows that aviation is somehow different.

At KLM we are acutely aware of our vulnerability. We are too small on our own. At the moment the scene is in motion with our North American partner Northwest Airlines (and codeshare partner Continental Airlines) making overtures with Delta Airlines, and Skyteam. I am far from certain whether the DOJ or DOT or whatever DO will allow this cooperation to go forward as planned. Let along the pilot unions involved (they have veto rights I believe). IF it does go through, it has implications for Europe beyond KLM. Will Air France/Alitalia and KLM find common ground? All good airlines, but management culture is quite different.

If they did, it would put BA in an awkward position. KLM is the only mid-size airline still in play. SWISS is closest to KLM in size but has got more problems than you can shake a stick at right now. It does not represent the same added value as KLM does. KLM brings with it a hugely attractive asset in the form of Schiphol Airport (lots of room to grow). Open skies with the US (antitrust with Northwest Airlines), we are fully part of the EU. It is a ďrichĒ airline (if there is such a thing) in the form of large cash reserves. And at worst we are in a break even year (barring unforeseen circumstances). We canít be bought out without the consent of our government. They own less than 25% of KLM, but hold a golden share which allows veto rights over certain decisions (like a take-over). Can BA afford to let Air France and Lufthansa walk away with mainland Europe? It would make BAís future pretty limiting I would think, an open skies deal between Britain and the States is only a matter of time. Sorry for going off topic here.

It will certainly be possible that under the right circumstances KLM will be bought out by someone. The position of us employees at KLM will be part of that negotiation. And yes it is possible that we would have to join the bottom of a new list. It would be messy whatever the solution. I would not like it if I was told to begin anew at the bottom of a large BA list or Air France list.

But I have been trying to say that in the case of KLM UK pilots this is not the only option. If my choice was bottom of the list at BA or Air France or remain with a new KLM in which over time all pilots would retire of leave some other way or join a new company with different T & Cís but set up to grow, I donít know how I would feel. We all have enough change in our lives without the company throwing a monkey wrench into it. But at least there is a choice here, let BALPA fight over the details that is what they are there for.

From the emails being sent to me, and from Capt. Prest post, I understand that BA is handling the situation a little different with their regional pilots. Certainly not any better to say the least.

Regards, O.

Last edited by Otterman; 8th Oct 2002 at 10:17.
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