Wizz Air: Stop union-busting now!

The low cost airline Wizz Air has been traditionally non-union. Earlier this year, a couple of courageous cabin crew members decided to set up a trade union at Wizz Air. One month after founding the union its president Mircea Constantin was fired on false disciplinary grounds. The vice president and secretary of the trade union, Claudiu Bita and Denisa Chelu, have been suspended claiming that their union involvement makes them a safety hazard. Management pressure grew and the Wizz Air CEO stated that he will not accept any unions in his company. Many workers began to fear losing their jobs. The whole story culminated on 4 November with the termination of 19 contracts of union members. Please write to József Varádi, the CEO of Wizz Air and remind him about the legal responsibilities of an employer and demand the reinstatement of the union leadership and the 19 dismissed workers.

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Unions trumpet historic win in American Airlines vote (politico.com)

Reservation agents at Texas-based American Airlines have voted overwhelmingly for union representation, in a move that labor organizers hailed Tuesday as a historic win in the South.

The agents chose to join with US Airways agents to form a bargaining unit of 14,500 employees at the new American Airlines. The two airlines merged this year, taking American’s name.

The combined group of airport and reservation agents will be represented by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association. The CWA called it “the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.”

View full news story here >>

ITF applauds US DOT decision on Norwegian Air

The ITF has applauded the decision on 2 September by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to refuse Norwegian Air International (NAI) – a key offender in attempting to introduce flags of convenience (FOCs) in aviation – an exemption for a foreign air carrier permit.

The exemption would have allowed the carrier to launch an airline in violation of American public interest laws and the US-EU open skies trade agreement.

The DOT refusal is a significant victory for the ITF, its European arm the ETF, and the ITF-affiliated members of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL–CIO (TTD) in the United States. They had vigorously campaigned against the NAI plan. Several airlines engaged in genuine social dialogue in line with labour standards also joined the coalition to oppose NAI’s request. NAI is a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

Vegard Einan, vice chairman of ITF affiliate PARAT, said: “We welcome this decision by DOT. We support competition in long haul aviation but on a level playing field. NAI is owned in Norway but registered in Ireland, a country it doesn’t even fly to, with European pilots hired through an agency in Singapore, another country it doesn’t fly to. This is the definition of a flag of convenience model. Parat have for a long time warned against this development, which is identical to that seen in the maritime industry. Hopefully the parties of the EU-US open skies agreement will take a more active approach to the challenges of international aviation, to secure sustainable development for all airlines on both sides of the Atlantic. If not, we risk facing a race to the bottom if transparency and fair competition are left behind.”

Joseph Tiberi, transportation chief of staff of ITF affiliate IAM (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) and vice chair of the ITF’s civil aviation committee, commented that this victory was unfortunately not the end of the matter. He said that IAM would continue to fight alongside the ITF, ETF and their affiliates for the DOT to permanently refuse the NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit, because of the airline’s poor labour practices in its mission to enter the US aviation market.

Europe must stop social dumping and flags of convenience in civil aviation

Around 120 delegates have gathered on the 1st and the 2nd of July 2014 in Catania, Italy, to attend a two-day conference on the evolution of the aviation labour market since the introduction of low fares airlines. Scientific research has revealed that the arrival of low fares airlines has introduced social dumping practices in the European aviation sector. The conference organised by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) demands that the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council stop these unfair practices and address the concerns of the workforce through the adoption of new specific legislation.

This conference is part of a wider EU funded project, which includes a scientific study that documents the impact of the new “flexible models” on employment in European civil aviation. The preliminary results have been presented by Professor Peter Turnbull (Cardiff University) and Dr Harvey Geraint (Birmingham University): “The data clearly illustrate the evolution in the civil aviation labour market that has increased the precariousness of work in the industry and altered the challenges facing trade unions”.

Enrique Carmona, ETF Civil Aviation Section President, commented: “Due to the increased share of atypical forms of employment, such as agency work, zero-hours contracts or even (bogus) self-employment, the already overwhelming flexibility of work and the trend for social dumping in aviation are rocketing. It is imperative that trade unions develop appropriate strategies in response to these threats. This also brings big challenges for trade unions. We therefore need to engage in campaigns to address the concerns of the workforce, both at a national level and at European level”.

The new business models developed in civil aviation try to avoid labour law and social provisions as much as possible, often choosing to establish in a Member State to avoid social and labour laws of another country. Moreover, temporary agencies and bogus self-employment potentially increase safety risks in aviation since non direct employment weakens the strong safety culture and accountability and procedures that currently prevail.

François Ballestero, ETF Civil Aviation Political Secretary, added: “In addition to unfair competition on the back of workers in the EU, through social dumping and flags of convenience, we face increased pressure from non-European airlines which do not respect workers’ rights. The participants of the conference call the European decision makers to reverse this trend through the adoption of new legislation that protects the staff from Europe and their jobs”.

For further information, please contact François Ballestero, +32 (0)474 91 69 79, f.ballestero@etf-europe.org

British Airways cabin crew ‘ready to strike’ over pay claim (theguardian.com)

British Airways is facing the threat of renewed strikes after cabin crew said they were prepared to take industrial action after their pay claims were rebuffed.

In a consultative ballot last week among members of the mixed fleet, 95% of crew who voted said they would go on strike. About a third of the eligible crew voted in the ballot, taken to gauge feeling in a fleet which unionised rapidly under Unite in 2012.

The mixed fleet is a predominantly younger crew, employed under inferior terms and conditions to pre-existing crew. The fleet was set up in 2010 during the last wave of bitter industrial action at the airline, when cost-cutting led to 22 days of walkouts.

View full article here>>


On behalf of 2.5 million transport workers and 250,000 civil aviation workers from 41 European countries and over 230 trade unions, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) expresses its full support to the industrial action currently being in progress at ‘Norwegian Air’ by Parat.

The ETF has learnt that Norwegian’s management is not ready to come forward to any of Parat’s main requests. The most important controversial point between the management and the union is the split between the Norwegian and Danish cabin crew members, who have been so far covered by a single collective agreement. This would pave the way to full outsourcing of cabin crew and replacement of permanent workers by temporary agency staff.

François Ballestero, the ETF Civil Aviation Political secretary commented: “Together with the practice of ‘Norwegian’ to import, notably, cheap labour from Asia by employing non-European cabin crew on its long-haul routes, this is another attempt to undermine the working conditions of the existing employees. The ETF is committed to fight against social dumping and we give the full support to Parat in their struggle. We request the management of ‘Norwegian’ to return to the negotiation table and offer a fair deal to its employees.”

The ETF has called all affiliated unions organizing workers in civil aviation to show support to colleagues in Parat.

Enrique Carmona, ETF Civil Aviation Section President concluded: “The new business model used by ‘Norwegian’ creates unfair competition in European and international aviation and endangers jobs in other airlines. This may create a spiral of unacceptable social dumping practices. Therefore, the ETF is calling for solidarity actions in unions across Europe and we send our best wishes to colleagues involved in the dispute.”

FAA launches new rule to curb unsafe aircraft maintenance outsourcing practices

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) President Edward Wytkind issues this statement regarding the FAA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(ANPRM) on drug and alcohol testing at aircraft maintenance facilities outside the U.S.: “Federal aviation regulators took an important step yesterday in an  effort to ensure that foreign aircraft repair stations that work on U.S.  aircraft can no longer evade drug and alcohol testing requirements. “The FAA’s  announcement that it will consider extending drug and alcohol testing to maintenance providers located outside the U.S. is in direct response to a  congressional mandate passed in 2012 and one that was supported by transportation labor as a long overdue safety reform. While we are disappointed  that the FAA is now over a year late in issuing a formal repair station proposal as required by Congress, we hope the ANPRM process will move forward quickly and  that this safety loophole will be closed as intended by lawmakers. “Today’s action also brings us closer to federal rules that level the playing field for  U.S. airline mechanics.

This generation of skilled mechanics has lived through an epidemic of outsourcing inspired by a government sanctioned feeding frenzy  that today has almost 70 percent of aircraft maintenance outsourced, with one-third of it sent overseas. “We are especially pleased that FAA Administrator  Michael Huerta has acted in light of a weak rulemaking issued in January by the Transportation Security Administration on foreign repair station security.  Inexplicably, the final TSA rule buckled under pressure from special interests and even rolled back limited security requirements embodied in the TSA’s initial  proposal. “The flying public and airline crews deserve nothing but the most rigorous safety, security and inspection standards of repair work on U.S.  aircraft that is performed overseas. We urge the FAA to expedite the drug and  alcohol testing rule and reject the predictable tactics by those who will try to  weaken or bury this most basic safety requirement.”

ETF: European Parliament endorses Commission’s low-cost approach to SES2+

Today, Wednesday 12 March 2014, the European Parliament (EP) has voted on the Single European Sky recast regulation (SES2+). Despite the pressure put by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), its affiliates and other stakeholders, the EP did not oppose the European Commission’s approach to dogmatically liberalise the ATM (air traffic management) industry and disregarded its safety-critical aspects.

The ETF, representing more than 25,000 Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) and ATM staff, has been opposing the Commission’s text on SES2+ from the beginning. The proposal introduces competition into all fields with a mandatory structural separation between supervisory authorities and service providers and with performance requirements driven by cost reduction. It also imposes a unique FAB (Functional Airspace Block) model which disregards particularities of individual member states and lacks any human or social dimension: no binding “human factor pillar” and no genuine social dialogue at all levels. Furthermore, with SES2+ the Commission is producing another piece of legislation, while the previous packages – (SES1 and SE2) – have not yet been fully implemented. Today, the European Parliament (EP) followed the Commission‘s approach. The most controversial elements are still in the text, as among others the unbundling of the so-called support services, namely communications, navigations and surveillance systems (CNS), aeronautical information services, meteorological services and training. ETF Political Secretary François Ballestero said: “A mandatory separation of supervisory activities and service providers together with unbundling of support services totally disregard national realities in many member states. There is no proof that this measure will increase efficiency, the contrary.

The ETF believes that it will create an unnecessary social burden.”Riccardo Rubini, President of the ETF ATM Committee and active air traffic controller, commented on the safety aspect: “The so-called ‘support’ services are in fact vital to air traffic management. For instance, communication, navigations and surveillance systems containing radio communication, radar antenna and phone communication are the ‘eyes and ears’ of Air Traffic Controllers. Forced unbundling will break the ATM safety chain. On behalf of ETF, I would like to thank those Members of the European Parliament who have supported the ETF demands.”The ETF is determined to continue its efforts for having a Single European Sky that includes safety and social aspects, being the key factors for success. – See more at: http://www.itfglobal.org/itfaviationblog/?p=3327#sthash.Aw09r7Qt.dpuf

ITF mission to Swaziland reports

Swaziland and South Africa-based media are invited to a press conference in Mbabane, Swaziland, on Wednesday to hear the results of a two day fact-finding mission to investigate labour conditions and allegations of severe anti-trade union actions by the Swazi government.

The mission has been mounted by the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and comprises Stuart Howard, ITF assistant general secretary; Joe Katende, ITF Africa regional secretary; and Abner Tabudi Ramakgolo, ITF regional chair and an official of SATAWU (South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union). They will report on their initial findings and meetings with, among others, representatives of the Swazi prime minister, at the press conference on Wednesday 27 March at 17:45 at 1st Floor, Mbabane House, Corner of Gwamile & Mahlokohla Street, Mbabane.

Speaking ahead of the press conference, ITF assistant general secretary Stuart Howard said: “We’re here in Swaziland to answer the call of our affiliated union, the Swaziland Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (STAWU) and look into the serious concerns it has raised.”

He continued: “Although we are here to investigate we have also come to drive home key messages on three particular areas of concern. These are: that the attempts to remove airport workers’ right to strike must cease; that the politically motivated charges against STAWU legal officer Bazel Tfwala must be dropped and he be immediately released from wrongful imprisonment for legitimate trade union activities; and that Swaziland must not seek to block the basic right of freedom of association – and the formation of a national trade union centre.”

ETF: A call to the ITF’s European aviation affiliates and workers: Join the ETF’s low fare airlines survey

In the context of an EU-funded project, the ETF Civil Aviation Section has decided to set up an online survey to investigate the evolution of the labour market in the airline industry following the development of low fares airlines. Needless to say that all civil aviation employees are affected by this issue.

This online survey is addressed to all aircrew and ground staff, including ground handling and administrative staff, from all airlines, so not only Low Fares Airlines, airports and independent handlers’ companies.

With this survey, we aim to understand the quality of the industrial relations and the changes in the labour models:

• direct and non-direct employment agencies, • contractors • type of contracts, e.g. flexible contracts, full-time, part-time…

This survey is conducted by Dr Harvey Geraint (University of Birmingham) and Professor Peter Turnbull (University of Cardiff).

Completing the survey will take approximately 15 minutes of your time.

You can access the survey here>>

Please complete the online survey by 30 April 2014.