EU Social Partners in civil aviation say NO to abusive behaviour against aviation workers

22 Sep 2022

Frustration, anger, aggression, or violence – are some of the most common attributes of what the aviation industry identifies as a disruptive or unruly passenger. The issue of unruly passengers spread broadly during and after the COVID-19 crisis, and we have seen a sharp increase in the quantity and severity of incidents in airports and aircraft since. These incidents have a negative effect on passengers, employers, and workers and must be addressed with urgency.

In a joint statement adopted on 16 September in Brussels, the European Social partners in Civil Aviation, represented as follows:

Workers’ organisations:  

And employers’ organisations:

agreed to address the issue of disruptive passengers jointly.

The increased level of stress and complexity due to restrictions and lack of staff has led to an escalation of verbal and physical violence, and attacks on aviation workers with direct passenger contact on ground and in-flight, and in particular the disproportionate impact on women workers, who make up most of the frontline workers,‘ the social partners explain in the joint statement.

Thus, Social Partners have agreed to join efforts and create a safe environment for workers and passengers in the airport and the aircraft.

Among others, social partners intend to engage themselves in future cooperation with national authorities, local police and security services to regulate these issues and quickly address unruly passengers’ possible incidents. Aircrew members and airport workers will benefit from specialised training on handling disruptive passengers’ negative behaviours. They will also receive support for dealing with mental health issues stemming from disruptive passenger incidents.

As for the passengers, the focus will first be on prevention by reminding them of the common-sense rules while travelling. In more severe cases, inappropriate behaviour could have criminal or financial consequences, which the Social Partners agree should be severe. Furthermore, passengers could be banned in airports or airlines for abusive behaviour.

For the first time, the aviation partners in Social Dialogue stand together to say NO to the abusive behaviour against airport aviation workers and collaborate to create a safe environment for both workers and passengers in the airport and the aircraft.

 

Background:

ETF organised on the 15-16 September 2022 in Brussels, the CA Social partner’s Conference, ‘How to promote a constructive and inclusive social dialogue in aviation?’

The discussions were mainly focused on how to restart the Social Dialogue in the post-COVID period and how the SD partners can have a more efficient social dialogue in the future.

In a joint statement, the social partners agreed to join efforts to tackle one of the large spread issues which highly impacted the sector during the COVID pandemic and the summer 2022 season: the disruptive passengers.

The Conference also served as a good opportunity for the social partners in civil aviation to have a fresh start for future meaningful cooperation based on mutual respect and by setting realistic goals for the benefit of all and the industry as a whole.