Sunday, 2 August 2020

The European Transport Workers’ Federation sends letter of support to Icelandair cabin crew

The ETF Pilots offer solidarity to Icelandair Cabin Crew Members in an open letter to them.

The ETF is a pan-European trade union organisation which embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Central and Eastern European countries. Whilst it was founded in 1999, it can trace its history back 60 or so years. It represents more than 5 million transport workers from more than 200 transport unions and 41 European countries. 

The ETF said on Friday that it had been closely following developments over at Icelandair especially as the airlines plan to replace cabin crew with pilots in an effort to cut costs at the financially troubled carrier.   The airline has since retracted the plan after reaching a tentative agreement with cabin crew representatives in recent weeks.

In May, the federation expressed solidarity with the Icelandair cabin crew over the issues they were having with the airline, especially the potential of pilots taking over cabin crew duties and the airline trying to stop all dissent against the new contract with significantly worse working conditions.


The ETF and the ETF Pilot community deplore this unprecedented attack on the legitimate rights of workers and their union and this flagrant breach of safety obligations by Icelandair. 

"We strongly condemn both the behaviour of the company – offensive both towards cabin crew and pilots – as well as the actions of the pilots. Indeed, the pilots did not reject the call of the company and instead made themselves available to undermine the position of the cabin crew and thereby put the professional image of pilots as well as safety standards at risk.

The ETF Pilot community cannot stress enough that one category of workers should never be used to undermine the position of others and that no group of workers shall ever voluntarily engage in actions which could undermine the working conditions of other groups of workers.

We stand with the Icelandic cabin crew colleagues involved in this deplorable situation."

The internal industrial relations at the company are, according to some, at an all-time low at the airline.  Staff members have been ordered not to talk to the media, threatened with dismissal if they do seem to have lost all trust in the airline's management but with employment options elsewhere at an unprecedented low, their options are extremely limited.  

The Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFÍ) rejected two previous offers from the airline, said "It’s pretty clear that Icelandair’s directors have a big project on their hands, that is to rebuild trust," The new contract lasts until 2025 and is designed to offer the maximum flexibility for the airline, yet offers the staff very little. "The key point in this is that these contracts that were approved today ensure the company’s competitiveness and flexibility and safeguard the working conditions of Icelandair’s flight attendants," the airline's CEO Bogi Nils Bogason said upon the signing of the deal. The airline employed somewhere north fo 900 cabin crew in April,  as we move into August and onward to September, just a few over 200 will be required, with rehiring based on seniority and performance. 

ETF Civil Aviation Section has issued a solidarity statement – available for download here.


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