Norwegian Air workers in France are demanding respect for their labour rights after the company announced it has gone bankrupt and wants to let them go without any compensation.
Norwegian Air has filed for bankruptcy in Ireland and ended all its long-haul operations across Europe putting thousands of workers out of work. But by entering into a bankruptcy proceeding in Ireland, it also effectively cut ties with national unions, who were only later informed of these changes.
The company refuses to take any responsibility to the workers left jobless in France and does not want to fulfil their basic legal obligations, such as paying severance pay.
The story might sound familiar – we’ve recently spoken about how Norwegian business practices have affected their workers in Italy. In that case, as well, management failed to share their plans or engage in open and transparent discussions until all the decisions were already made. Out of the blue, unions were informed after the Norwegian bankruptcy process started and were told that they’d only be able to speak with court-appointed liquidators from now on.
Like unions in Italy, French unions are now calling on public authorities to intervene and ensure that Norwegian workers’ rights in France are protected.
The ETF stands with all affiliates fighting these exploitative business practices. For years, we’ve been warning against further deregulation in the industry and against employment models that Norwegian has run for many years. Blind trust in the free market and increased competition has brought as here, and workers are paying the price.
Norwegian is not the only company in the aviation industry that uses the registration of various business entities around Europe in their favour. The consequences we see now on workers must push regulators at European and national levels to protect the affected workers and introduce measures to prevent it from happening again.
In the meantime, the rights of those workers in Italy and France to their basic obligations in their own national law must be upheld by Norwegian management and the examiner KPMG. The ETF will continue to fight with its affiliates on this and ensure workers rights are upheld.