KLM pilots prepared to debate state support wage freeze: union

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Pilots from KLM, the Dutch branch of Air France-KLM (PA :), said Monday they were ready to discuss extending a wage freeze, a request by the Dutch government in exchange for state aid.

The pilots' refusal to agree to government terms this weekend jeopardized the planned € 3.4 billion ($ 4 billion) bailout needed to help KLM cope with the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic support.

"We want to speak to KLM and the Ministry of Finance to find a solution as soon as possible," said the VNV chairman of the pilot union, Willem Schmid, to the Dutch radio station BNR on Monday.

KLM did not comment on Schmid's remarks, while the Ministry of Finance has announced that it will only speak to the airline's board of directors and not to individual unions.

The pilot union had previously agreed to cut wages for the period ending March 2022, but the government on Friday called for an immediate guarantee that wages would be frozen for at least three years after that period.

"This requirement came out of nowhere," said Schmid. "We want to know what to sign for."

The KLM works council on Monday called on all parties to reach an agreement.

"You just can't let this problem endanger the future of the company," works council chairman Dario Fucci told Reuters.

"This is not an acceptable result, not for the unions, not for the company and not for the government."

Most unions representing ground and cabin crews have approved the extended wage freeze, which will last as long as the airline receives government support.

However, the FNV ground and cabin crew union declined to agree to the stricter terms that weekend as it waited for the piots to move.

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