The first terminations are now being distributed at Lauda headquarters. It even affects pregnant women who are actually protected. The company is suing the regional court in Korneuburg for approval. The parent company celebrates the addition of 64 additional routes at the same time.
While Ryanair is celebrating the addition of 64 "new" routes from Vienna in a media release, cancellations are being distributed at the headquarters of the Austrian subsidiary Lauda. The ground staff is reportedly being reduced to the low number of employees necessary for the provision of ACMI services for Ryanair.
Lauda managing director Andreas Gruber repeatedly did not take a position on the terminations that are now actually being pronounced and always referred to the early registration made a few weeks ago with the labor market service as well as the media release from last week.
On Thursday, a questionable incident is said to have occurred at Lauda headquarters, because a pregnant employee was given the letter of resignation and then she was said to have been asked to leave the office. Actually, this employee would be protected from dismissal by the Maternity Protection Act, but according to reports, this does not seem to have been taken very seriously. Lauda is also suing the regional court in Korneuburg for approval of termination in at least 25 other cases that fall under the Maternity Protection Act. These are pregnant women and women on maternity leave who are part of the flight crew.
In the “first wave of layoffs”, at least 15 Lauda employees at the headquarters in Schwechat are said to have been “hit”. These were released from duty immediately. Various professional groups are affected, and the Austrian Ryanair subsidiary even separated from the press office.
Pregnant women and women on maternity leave should be dismissed
The airline Lauda tries to dismiss at least 25 employees who enjoy special protection against dismissal under Austrian law due to pregnancy, parental part-time work or maternity leave by filing lawsuits before the Korneuburg Regional Court as a labor and social court. The company filed corresponding lawsuits for approval of the dismissal in accordance with the Maternity Protection Act with a brief dated May 29.
The Korneuburg Regional Court combined the individual complaints with the present decision of June 9, 2020 to form a single procedure that is to be heard orally on July 20, 2020. The plaintiff is requested to submit a preparatory brief by June 29, 2020 and to provide an informed representative during the negotiation. The defendant parties are requested to submit pleadings and evidence to the court by July 13, 2020.
In the present lawsuit, the law firm Karasek Wietrzyk Rechtsanwälte GmbH, representing Lauda, writes that flight operations at Vienna Airport will be closed on May 29, 2020 and that no more commercial flights will be offered from this airport in the future. Therefore one could not employ the defendant parties any further. Furthermore, the plaintiff argues that Lauda has flown in a loss of 200 million euros in the last two financial years and that the COVID-19 crisis has meant that no more flights have been carried out since March 17, 2020. It is also written that other airlines have received high levels of government aid and that the Vida union has refused to approve the new collective agreement.
The Lauda employees concerned, whom the company wants to terminate by means of the lawsuit, would no longer be used at other bases or in the office in Vienna. The lawyer also writes that the current situation and thus the request for termination of the employment relationship is due to the COVID-19 crisis and “the failure of the Vida union to sign the collective agreement”. The employees who are protected against dismissal due to the MSchG can no longer be employed due to a lack of vacancies and must also issue further dismissals in order to "meet the new demands of the industry." Granted to pregnant women as soon as possible.
When asked, the airline Lauda stated that it would only involve employees who had not consented to the new collective agreement. The actions for dismissal against those who have given their consent are to be withdrawn. The airline was unable to quantify the exact number of Lauda employees affected. With the proviso that the content of the lawsuit of May 29, 2020 is no longer applicable due to the continuation of the Vienna base, reference was made to the deadline for submitting the preparatory brief. It was also said that there is a possibility of withdrawing the lawsuits individually or completely.
Appraisals on Friday
On Friday, numerous Lauda employees on the plane were invited to the company headquarters in Schwechat for an appraisal interview. The HR department wants to talk to those employees who have received the cover letter by email about the employment contract. In the present call it is to be read that it would be a plausible request from the employer and participation is expressly expected, unless there is “a good reason that prevents the employer from appearing”. Those pregnant women and mothers whose dismissal the company is suing have also received the summons to the appraisal interview. However, it is questionable whether people who are on maternity leave are even obliged to comply with such a request from the employer.
Upon request, the company did not comment on the content or on the professional groups that were asked for discussions. Reference was made to the press release that was sent out last week. Accordingly, 94 employees of the flying personnel will be cut. The question of whether employees of the Schwechat office will also be dismissed was not answered.