KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight attendants have called a 24-hour strike on Jan. 8, 2018, as part of a long-running dispute over reduced staff complements on board some intercontinental flights.

KLM said it was forced to cut cabin crew numbers by one on its Airbus A330-300s, Boeing 777-200s and 787s as it had been unable to reach agreement with cabin crew unions on required productivity measures.

Staff union FNV Cabine said the episode began in October 2016 when KLM, without consultation, reduced the cabin crew complement. Union spokeswoman Birte Nelen said that, after talks, KLM had agreed to restore flight attendant numbers in a series of stages, if the union could propose measures that would save the same amount of money.

Nelen said the cabin crew had held a series of short work stoppages of up to 40 minutes last year and is now strictly following the terms of the existing collective labor agreement on working hours.

Whereas in the past, if a flight was delayed sufficiently to warrant longer-than-normal shift hours for cabin crew, the airline would contact the union and ask for permission for staff to work longer. This permission had previously always been given, Nelen said, with staff getting compensation for the extra hours worked. However, the union was no longer allowing such leeway.

She added that KLM had so far failed to come forward with a solution, hence the decision to impose the 24-hour strike Jan. 8.

In a statement, KLM said it could not confirm the Jan. 8 stoppage would go ahead, as it still hoped to reach agreement with the unions. “In case of a disruption, we will do our utmost to get all passengers to their destination as quickly as possible.”

The airline called on FNV Cabine to negotiate on a collective labor agreement “in the interest of KLM, its passengers and employees.”

The Dutch company said it has offered a structural wage increase for the first time in many years, better prospects for cabin crew, measures to relieve work pressure, and a “greatly improved” profit-sharing scheme. The airline said that reducing cabin crew numbers by one person on the 40% of intercontinental services operated by the three aircraft types “has the least impact on customers and will largely generate the 4% productivity gain that is required.”

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com