Interview with Ingo Kronsfoth on ETF 2013 Congress

31 May 2013

Ingo Kronsfoth (ver.di), the Chair of the ETF Ground Staff Committee and member of the ETF Civil Aviation Section, was interviewed today by François Ballestero, ETF Political Secretary, about his impressions on the first ETF 2013 Congress day.

What will you remember of this congress day?

I notice a difficulty to bring a general position together with concrete measures. In congress, our discussions are sometimes in between very general opinions and very concrete positions and it is not easy to find the right balance.

At ETF level, we need a strong political vision, which will help our daily trade union work. But this policy must go hand in hand with our actions in the field in order to be successful.

In addition, on the first Congress day, the members of the ETF Civil Aviation Section had a working lunch together to review our strategy vis-à-vis the EU policies. We decided that I will make a speech to inform the other congress participants about one main activity of the section and make a link between our principles to fight against liberalisation and deregulation and the battle for better working conditions.

What’s in your opinion the most important part in the main motion?

In my opinion, the most important issue is linked with chapter 5, “Cross-border representation and coordination”. All in all, we have a good level of trade union representation and organisation at company level. However, due to the never-ending flow of EU rules creating a new legal European-wide framework for employees and the important role of the transnational companies, we need more coordination between shop stewards and works’ councils at transnational level. We also need an ETF policy for building transnational collective agreements in these companies. Indeed, it makes sense that we develop transnational trade union representation and industrial relations to reach a new type of collective agreement. This is a fight on a new level

What are the next challenges for your sector?

I see three challenges for the civil aviation section:

Flight Time Limitations for the aircrew: in order to obtain good rules based on scientific evidence and avoiding bad social consequences, the ETF is organising a new demonstration in Brussels on 18 June 2013;

Single European Sky new package in the air traffic management (ATM) sector: the ETF says enough is enough and the ATM staff will fight all over Europe on 12 June 2013 (strike, gatherings, demonstrations, stoppages, walk-outs in different EU countries) to protest against the cost-cutting approach of the Commission and the liberalisation of the sector, which is a sector of public interest;

We won the first battle on the ground handling services at EU level but we haven’t won the war yet. The European Parliament (EP) adopted a positive position on social rights. It is new for the civil aviation sector and a very huge success for the ETF. Now, we are confronted with the Commission policy, the majority of the Council and a lot of companies that want to downgrade the EP position on the social dimension.

The ETF supports, with reserves, the position of the EP. The obligation to apply a representative collective agreement in each company will avoid wage and social dumping in the sector. In addition, the jobs and the working conditions of a lot of colleagues are protected in case of call for tenders or partial loss of activities. In the next days and weeks to come, we will have to exert pressure against national governments that believe in the free market without social rights. We will do our utmost to change the general approach of the Council of the EU in order to install a social minded Regulation on Ground Handling. We will be in contact with the Lithuanian Presidency in order to do so.