Solidarity in the Mediterranean sky!

1 Oct 2021

Solidarity in the Mediterranean sky!

European and Arab world’s aviation unions’ joint Statement on the future of aviation

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been dramatic both for people’s lives and the toll it has taken on a number of sectors of the global economy.

Global aviation was not spared and in fact disproportionately suffered economically and from dramatic job losses.

As the sector slowly resumes operations, it cannot be overlooked that the development and restart of the sector is deeply uneven. Vaccination roll-out paces, combined with changing regulations on transport and other public policy measures, make the aviation sector and, most importantly its workers, suffer from prolonged uncertainty compared to other parts of the economy.

Gathered under the auspices of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), aviation trade union representatives from Europe and Arab World covering all sections of aviation (aircrew, ground staff and air traffic management) have convened to collectively share concerns and solidarity as the industry begins to recover in a post-pandemic environment.

JOINT STATEMENT

The daily struggles of our workers due to COVID-19 crisis and the massive loss of jobs during the pandemic have greatly affected our working lives. Defending jobs and lobbying efforts for government support showed in many parts of the world that the trade unions’ voice matters and protection schemes were put in place in many countries.

COVID-19 also brought about a significant acceleration of digitalisation and automation processes for passengers, which have required great effort from the sector to adapt. Automation and digitalisation have a direct impact on both the quantity and quality of jobs, and such any transition must take place in a sustainable way which helps to both overcome the impact of this pandemic and prioritises social rights and high social standards as part of any recovery.

The lowering of standards and of the working conditions for our workers, due to a race to the bottom of labour costs are a worrying phenomenon that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

Today’s discussions within the Med-Co project confirmed our deepest concerns about the future of aviation, and the need for the voice of workers to be heard. As such we:

  • Condemn the situation where during the COVID-19 crisis, many of the workers in aviation have not had adequate health protection and safe working conditions. Air crews, ground staff as well as air traffic management workers have all been directly negatively affected by the pandemic in their day to day lives both inside and outside of work
  • Note that while the technological changes introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are often presented in very neutral terms, they strongly influence the nature and the number of jobs, tasks, and organisation of work which could have detrimental long-term effects on employment.
  • Are deeply concerned that the pandemic has been used by governments and companies to undermine collective bargaining rights, attack pay, terms and conditions and target job losses at vulnerable and very often migrant workers.

As trade unions, we are determined to ensure that any recovery and associated digitalisation and automation places humans, passengers and workers, are at the centre of the process. We are guided by the principle that the benefits of recovery and technological changes need to be shared by all. Too often workers pay the price of economic, social and health crisis, but gain nothing from any recovery.

At the same time, we need to explore dedicated measures for the European and Arab World aviation sector and their cooperation in order to survive not just the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also be better prepared for other possible similar future crises.

Through this statement, we agree that we cannot afford to lose any more time, but need to start considering immediate practical measures and continuing cooperation to secure a better future for our workers. We will together help rebuild aviation across the world, leaving no region behind.

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