For the past few months, the ETF has been receiving reports from around Europe that Aviapartner has been ignoring calls by European Works Council (EWC) representatives and trade unions in different countries to engage in dialogue. There is a clear pattern of neglect which would be highly inappropriate at any time but is especially harmful in a time of crisis. ETF has been following these developments closely and has urged Richard Prince, Aviapartner Managing Director, to respect the workers that have served him in good times, by engaging in dialogue with them about how to get through the bad times. Instead of responding and changing the management’s behaviour, Mr Prince continues to ignore the situation and even allows some contractual obligations of the company to be broken.
In Italy, Aviapartner has recently decided – unilaterally – to not pay their employees their 14th-month salaries all at once and has told them that they will be receiving the payments in instalments over a longer period. This decision comes on top of severe economic strains workers in Italy have been experiencing as a result of the crisis, and it is especially disconcerting that it was done without consulting with workers’ representatives. The company is trying to lower standards and avoid their contractual obligations while hiding behind the supposed urgency caused by COVID-19. Whatever the situation, the contract is clear – workers need to be paid what they are owed.
Representatives of the Aviapartner EWC also report on issues they are facing with the company. The lack of transparency and unwillingness to engage in dialogue is a significant cause of concern and again points to the anti-worker attitude of the management. EWC representatives in various European countries have been urging Aviapartner to comply with their legal obligations, including information provision and consultation, to no avail. In one case, the Chairman of the Aviapartner EWC Jorn Hanssens appealed to Aviapartner in April to address the most burning issues during the COVID-19 crisis. Such a request is to be expected during turbulent times, and yet it has been left formally unanswered to this day.
When workers’ representatives were seeking information about plans for the near future, they were ignored.
When they asked about the financial situation of the company, the figures were kept hidden.
No tangible information has been provided by Aviapartner to the workforce, despite this being an incredibly difficult time for ground handling workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit aviation hard, and it is clear that there are many changes afoot. Before and during the pandemic workers around Europe complied with their contracts and did their job, keeping the company afloat. Aviapartner has then decided to repay them by lowering standards and ignoring its obligations as an employer.
The ETF urges Aviapartner to stop this harmful behaviour immediately. The company needs to immediately provide information about the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on Aviapartner’s operations country by country. This is the time to engage in dialogue and cooperate in finding solutions – for the benefit of the workers as well as the company.