ETF warns: until real social improvements occur, the chaos will continue in aviation

31 May 2023

Until governments and aviation companies are ready to offer real solutions to address the deteriorating working conditions, the 2022 summer chaos will repeat in 2023, warns ETF.

Ahead of the meeting of the EU Transport Council, EU Commissioner Valean, through a letter to the Swedish Presidency of the EU, sets the tone of the discussion by inviting member states to take measures to mitigate the impact of industrial actions.

Commenting on the letter, ETF General Secretary Livia Spera stated:

‘The ongoing disruptions in aviation originate from the inability to recruit and retain workers, mainly due to deteriorating working conditions and from a short-sighted approach that some employers took during the pandemic.

This is also the cause of industrial actions. On top of worsening conditions, the shortage of workers has meant additional pressure on those working in the sector.

Strikes are always the last resort for unions and occur when all attempts to dialogue have failed.

Instead of asking member states to act and limit the impact of industrial actions, the Commissioners should encourage them to act on the root causes that caused industrial actions.

The ETF answered to the Commissioner, emphasizing what the real problems are:

  • Inadequate wages and precarious forms of employment, with temporary and seasonal work and part-time contracts, for ground handling and airport operations;
  • Precarious employment with temporary work and bogus self-employment and social dumping, for instance, through the use of wet lease, for pilots and cabin crew members;
  • A chronic shortage of qualified workers in the ATM sector.

As indicated in the letter to the EU Commissioner for Transport, the ETF has already proposed targeted solutions to tackle the new crisis in aviation. Yet, one fundamental condition remains the same: aviation workers must be at the core of all the upcoming decisions regulating the sector.