Lufthansa German Airlines

It is extremely convenient and helpful to have Mr. Nevins available in Tokyo as a sounding board on my ideas and to obtain advice and perspective on the various challenges posed in the area of effective union management and the many other specific personnel problems which come up in the course of our work each day. For the last 18 months or so, particularly during the “shunto base-up” period in the spring, I have periodically gone to him for answers and to seek coaching (the confidence factor one needs) to carry out strategic policies to make sure there is a fair balance between employee/union interests and the realities of effectively and profitably running an airline.

Without boring you with details of our own situation and progress we have made, let me offer you a couple of interesting quotes from a policy paper Mr. Nevins presented to us after having analyzed our Rules of Employment, compensation, retirement scheme, and collective bargaining agreements, etc.

“Strikes are indeed counterproductive. By definition, a strike means that there is a loss in productivity and economic damage to a business such that it becomes less possible to offer employees a higher pay increase. Any past pattern where strike action resulted in management being forced to meet union demands must end, because rewards for such behavior will obviously merely result in continued unreasonable demands on the part of the labor union and will encourage a union and its membership to continue to go out on strike or engage in a wide variety of other forms of collective action.”

I believe that this is a refreshing if not even innovative concept. To make a lower offer after a strike should thus not necessarily subject one to an unfair labor practice and can instead be justified with a computer’s calculation.

Another pioneering concept that is remarkable in the simplicity of its truth and clarity is his following position as presented to me:

“An employee, whether a union or non-union member, who insists on wearing an armband, or in other ways distracts and makes customers feel uncomfortable directly resulting in real economic loss, or who refuses to work overtime when the company is in need, or will not pitch in and switch holidays to accommodate the company with holiday work, certainly has no right to expect to be rewarded the same bonus or annual pay increases as a more cooperative and accommodating employee. If the uncooperative employee happens to be a union member, this is not a question of union discrimination but it is a question of employee discrimination and the right of management to discriminate between good employees and not so good employees.”

Hans-Eberhard Schultz
Controller / Japan and Korea
Lufthansa German Airlines
July, 1989