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English KLM Update: Decreasing Working Hours Became Emergency Fund Bridging Employment

English KLM update: Decreasing working hours became Emergency Fund Bridging Employment

De Unie received numerous emails and reactions from non-native Dutch speaking KLM colleagues. I promised, if time allows, to write an update in English as a service to them. I hope this update fulfills this promise.

Unprecedented events and KLM and De Unie response

Events have unfolded in an unprecedented manner the last 7 days. The situation deteriorated day over day, even hour over hour. The focus of De Unie, your representative and partner in work and pay related issues, has been on creating security and calmness in these stormy times. Our main goal is to secure your income where your everyday work might decline or completely come to a standstill. KLM’s main goal is to generate as much cash as possible and to maximally prevent cash out. Because bankruptcy normally arises due to a negative cash flow and cash position, this focus is warranted.

Decreasing working hours became Emergency Fund Bridging Employment

Till Monday, March 16th, we discussed with KLM the option of decreasing working hours for all KLM-personnel. This proved to be a tough discussion as this meant an income drop for ground personnel somewhere between 7 and 20%. And what to do with expats? Or those of you who started recently here in the Netherlands and do not have any right on unemployment benefits?

Then the government stepped in. On Monday evening they announce a new temporary emergency fund (Noodfonds Overbrugging Werkgelegenheid (NOW); or in English Emergency Fund Bridging Employment) for all companies that are experiencing a drop in turnover. When confronted with an expected decrease in turnover (from March 1st) of 20% or more, companies can apply for help. The help consists of a subsidy to a maximum of 90% of labor costs. For example if the decline in turnover is 80% the subsidy is 72% of labour costs. As labour costs is 1/3 of all KLM costs it will have a significant impact on KLM’s cash position.

We hope and expect the new emergency fund to be 20% better for KLM than the decreasing working hours scheme. As we are waiting to get the exact rules and regulations, which are being determined and outlined as we speak, we cannot tell what the exact effect is on the cash position of KLM.

What does it mean for you?

Condition of this emergency fund is that all employees will receive full salary and benefits. It will be for a period of three months with a possible extension of three more months. So for a total of six months full salary and benefits are secured. This should help a great deal in getting through this incredible volatile period.

It also means that some of you might have to work normal hours. We learned that, for example, Ticketing Office/Customer Support/Social Media is handling 10 times as much social media responses and 5 times the normal phone calls at the moment so extra capacity might be asked from you and other colleagues. You are expected to help out when you are asked to do so.

Furthermore, for the new fund there is no need for you to have worked here for 26 weeks or more and have unemployment benefit rights. The new fund does not rely on the unemployment benefits scheme, so there will be no effect for you on this side.

Further financial measures

Yesterday evening, March 18th, at 8.45 PM, KLM, De Unie and other trade unions agreed upon additional measure to ensure an adequate cash position for KLM.

  1. We agreed upon a delay of the payout of the profit sharing scheme from April to October 2020.
  2. Variable pay for the Management and Specialist Group (MSG) will be postponed for 50% till June and for 50% till October 2020.
  3. Variable pay for Executives (and Top Management) will be pushed back from April to October 2020.
  4. The execution of the new salary system OSG (ORBA Salary system Ground Personnel, which will replace the A- and T-system) will be further pushed back from June to October 2020. The original date was April 2020. The postponing to October this year will be compensated in line with our agreement on how to compensate the move from April to June.

Other measures

As we have agreed upon the most urgent financial measures, we can now turn our attention to other measures in relation to flexibility in operations, leave/days off balances, and flexible contracts.

Flexible contracts are those of you that have contracts for a certain period of time and temporary workers. In explaining the emergency fund, the government made a remark that also those that have flexible contracts can be paid the salary and benefits in full and remain under contract with KLM. De Unie that KLM should adhere to this government starting point.

Finally, we agreed that we need to discuss further how to deal with the different leaves and days off. This will be part of the following round of talks between KLM, De Unie and other trade unions.

What’s next

We are working around the clock to represent your interests at KLM. We understand that you may have many questions. We try to answer them as quickly as possible, but sometimes we need to consult with KLM to find the answer to your questions. We hope we tackled much of your questions by this newsletter. If there are any remaining questions you can email me at

Please register at to receive regular Dutch updates and irregular English updates and stay tuned to the further discussions with KLM on the other measures.

Kind regards,Your Unie-delegation

Guus Ottenhof
Piet-Hein van Walderveen
Erik Zwart
Gertjan Tommel

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