S&D MEPs voiced concerns about appalling social conditions in low-cost airlines

appalling working conditions at Norwegians daughter company, Norwegian Air Norway (NAN)

Today, leading members of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament expressed their support to the pilot strike against appalling working conditions at Norwegians daughter company, Norwegian Air Norway (NAN).

The basic conflict at Norwegian is about job security. The pilots want their employment and the collective agreement to be linked to Norwegian Air Shuttle, the listed parent company of the Group. All other types of agreements / contracts mean that Norwegian can freely switch between the different existing employment agencies for pilots. This, in turn, means that Norwegian can relocate pilots or replace them with others, in order to lower standards in working conditions at NAN.

In the short term, it would naturally lead to deterioration in working conditions, and in the long term, an unsustainable situation where pilots and other flight staff all end up as day labourers.

Jutta Steinruck, S&D spokesperson on social affairs and employment, stated:

"We fully support the pilots and cabin crew from Norwegian who have been fighting for their rights these last few days. Threatening the strikers with dismissal is a general attack on the right to strike for workers.

"Unfair competition is not a natural law, but there are political decisions that could preclude the situation.

"We need to fight social dumping in the civil aviation sector on the European level. We have a lot of possibilities to do so but we need to use them".

Marita Ulvskog, S&D Group chair in the committee on employment and social affairs, added:

"To avoid flags of convenience a registered seat should be in the same Member State as a principle of business. We must not allow companies such as Norwegian Air International to become the standard business model, forcing serious airlines to apply the same measures to be competitive.

"A recent study has shown that precarious employment and bogus self-employment has become the norm. Out of the 650 Ryanair pilots surveyed, 416 were not direct employees but had been hired through agencies, often as self-employed. We cannot continue like this. Not only do pilots fall outside social security systems, but it also makes it very convenient for the employer to get rid of someone that does not fit – say someone who complains about security or working conditions.

“We need to set a common minimum standard on the working environment and the working time in order to avoid competition on working conditions within Europe and worldwide".