Danish report on social dumping in aviation

16 Oct 2014

The liberalisation of air transport in the early 1990’s has brought benefits to the travelling public in terms of democratisation, cheaper air fares and a diversified offer. But who pays the price? Jobs in aviation that used to be prestigious and high-quality are disappearing. Instead of a competition based on quality and affordability of the service, the situation turned into a race to the bottom. The ETF has identified social dumping as one of its key priorities for the future and adopted concrete proposals to address our concerns. But it is clear that ETF cannot act alone and we need support of national unions organising aviation workers. One of the most advanced countries in Europe in terms of fight against social dumping is Denmark. In this article we take a look at a concrete initiative taken by the social partners in cooperation with the Danish government.

After preliminary discussions in the Danish Aviation Council, the Transport Minister has sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Transport in June 2014, asking for concrete measures to fight social dumping in aviation. As a follow-up, a dedicated working group of the Danish Aviation Council has been created to look at the issue in depth. According to the mandate given, the group shall map the size of the problem and come with concrete proposals on how to prevent social dumping in the context of Danish and European legislation. On the trade union side, the group consisted of several ETF affiliates, namely the United Federation of Danish Workers (3F), Danish Flight Personnel Union (FPU), The Union of Commercial and Clerical Employees (HK), Danish Metalworkers’ Union and Cabin Union Denmark (CUD).

The group acknowledges that aviation is a truly international industry and that liberalisation has created opportunities. However, it also raises different issues with regards to employment models and terms of employment. On international level, social dumping in aviation is particularly linked to cherry picking among different countries’ rules. At first sight, this practice seems to be legitimate and in line with the current EU rules. However, the group also found examples of exploitation, of unintentional differences in the rules and their implementation in the Member States.

As a result of its work, the experts proposed the following key measures to address social dumping:

  • a permanent group under the Danish Aviation Council monitors and assesses more closely the developments within aviation in relation to social dumping and rule shopping;
  • the Danish Social Affairs minister initiates a discussion with the European Commission on the concept of the employer in relation to the applicable law on social security in order to achieve a more uniform understanding and implementation of the current rules;
  •  Denmark must work within the EU to ensure that employees working for an airline on whatever basis (agency, self-employment etc.) have to be regarded as employees of the airline with the same conditions;
  • Denmark must work with EU and EASA to establish a firmed concept of a home base;
  • Denmark must work under the auspices of the EU to examine issue linked with the working environment inside an aircraft;
  • encourage EASA to consider the introduction of rules requiring direct and permanent employment of a proportion of both pilots and cabin crew on each individual flight;
  • the renegotiation of the tax treaty between Denmark and Ireland to allow Denmark to tax aviation personnel who are resident in Denmark and working aboard an aircraft operated in international traffic;
  • respect the OECD Model Convention when negotiating new and renegotiating existing double taxation conventions.

The ETF welcomes this initiative and will ensure coordination with possible actions in other member states. François Ballestero, ETF Political Secretary, commented: “We are happy that concrete proposals included in the working group’s report are going into the same direction as ETF proposals for fighting social dumping. ETF affiliates from other countries are invited to take similar initiatives to fight social dumping.”

You can download the report of the Danish Aviation Council’s working group below.