Strike-breaking & forced transfer of striking workers…Norwegian Air Shuttle’s anti-social behavior must stop
Press Release of the European Cockpit Association, Brussels, 6. March 2015
European pilots express their firm disapproval of the anti-social actions from Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS). Competition is not a blank cheque to do whatever you want: unilateral decision to transfer striking workers to subsidiaries, massive recourse to strike-breaking, virtual crew bases outside Europe and social engineering are some of the social dumping techniques used by Norwegian to gain unfair competitive advantage and to cut cost on the back of its employees.
“Norwegian never gets enough,” says Capt. Dirk Polloczek, ECA President. “Hiring and basing cabin crew in Bangkok is not enough; hiring pilots through Singaporean Agencies to base them in Gatwick is not enough; opening a subsidiary in Ireland to avoid Norway’s tax and social law is not enough…. Now they resort to strike-breaking and threaten to move their pilots to subsidiaries and unilaterally break Collective Labour Agreements. Such behaviour is disgraceful and has no place in Europe.”
Information suggests that NAS tries everything to break the ongoing strike by bringing in pilots from various European countries and using charter and fleet operators to fly their routes. So far, evidence suggests that SmartLynx (Latvia), White Airlines (Portugal), Euro Atlantic Airways (Portugal), Danish Air Transport (DAT, Denmark) and Jet2 (UK) are operating flights for Norwegian during the strike.
According to employment lawyer Arvid Reidar Ødegård, these actions constitute strike breaking. Such practices are illegal in several European countries (e.g. Spain, Croatia, etc.), where the employer cannot substitute workers on strike by workers with no link to the company when the strike was formally notified. In countries where no formal regulations exist, strike-breaking is regarded as immoral and unacceptable, as it is a targeted attempt to undermine the basic worker’s right to strike.
“Norwegian clamps down on strikers to make them accept drastic cost cuts. But they seem to have enough cash to hand out 150 USD vouchers to anybody willing to sign a petition that presses the US Congress to open up the American market to the airline’s Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI),” says Philip von Schöppenthau, ECA Secretary General. “As we all know, NAI in Ireland is a ‘flag of convenience’ that is based on social dumping techniques, and it is not surprising that NAI failed so far to get access to the US. The anti-social behavior through strike-breaking and forced crew transfers demonstrates once again that Norwegian is undermining basic social and labour rights.”
The Norwegian pilot strike broke out last week due to a Collective Labour Agreement dispute, after mediation failed. The pilots are employed by Norwegian Air Norway (NAN), a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), and are seeking an agreement with their real employer, i.e. NAS.