AUA staff salaries upped

Austrian Airlines (AUA) bosses managed to avoid a possible collapse of the firm’s aviation operations by granting more than 2,000 employees a pay rise.The struggling airline’s 2,500 technicians and clerks decided last month they would go on strike in early 2011 if AUA managers do not meet their demands.Income negotiations between the AUA board and the airline’s works council were abandoned without an agreement shortly before Christmas. Staff representatives afterwards said they were willing to strike to increase the pressure on superiors, but also stressed not to stop working during the Christmas holidays to avoid havoc at Vienna International Airport (VIA) and other airports in Austria.AUA’s ground staff also staged a demonstration at VIA to express their disagreement with the board’s decision not to consider the inflation rate in their earnings. AUA staff of various departments already accepted wage cuts after the struggling airline was taken over by German competitor Lufthansa in September 2009. Hundreds of AUA employees were laid off since the deal.Now AUA bosses and the company’s works council agreed about increasing staff’s monthly income by 35 to 40 Euros this year. The minimum wage has been set to 1,300 Euros. A relieved AUA co-chief Peter Malanik described the arrangement as a “reasonable solution” yesterday evening (Weds). AUA officials claimed the agreement with the works council cost the company 1.9 million Euros.The decision to raise wages comes shortly after outgoing Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber strictly ruled out staff will be paid more this year. The Austrian businessman was succeeded by German Christoph Franz as chairman of the leading airline at the beginning of this month. Mayrhuber headed the company for seven years.Yesterday’s decision to pay higher wages also includes a clause guaranteeing staff a one-off bonus of 700 Euros if AUA manages to make a profit of 50 million Euros this year. The Vienna-based firm, which has around 6,600 employees, lost 44.4 million Euros in the first three quarters of 2010 after having suffered a loss of 164.6 million Euros in the same period of the previous year.The salary negotiations come shortly after, to the fury of staff representatives, Lufthansa assigned Thierry Antinori as third co-chief of AUA.Mayrhuber said Antinori, who will take office in April, will “step on the gas” in restructuring the former Austrian flagship carrier. The experienced French aviation manager will join Malanik and Andreas Bierwirth at the airline’s executive board.Alfred Junghans, head of the aviation firm’s ground personnel works council, showed little understanding for the assignment of Antinori last month. He said: “We are facing cuts while AUA can afford to hire another board member.”AUA recorded 798,100 passengers in November 2010, up by 6.8 per cent compared to customer figures in the same month of the year before.