When reality proves that real social dialogue is not just a rigid concept, but a key principle

13 Jul 2022

Almost 15,800 flights have been cancelled in Europe, a clear sign that across Europe, the aviation industry continues to struggle to face staff shortages, with the staff reasonably just demanding for their wages to keep up with the cost of living, while passengers are asked to show resilience.

One of the many European airlines which have been hit by strikes is SAS in Scandinavia. The pilots of Scandinavian Airlines System Denmark-Norway-Sweden (SAS) continue to strike against attempts to outsource them to cheaper contracts aimed to undercut labour standards at the airline.

In total 900 pilots from airline SAS in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are protesting after the failed negotiations between the company and the pilots’ unions on fair salary and improved working conditions. During the recent collective bargaining negotiations, SAS asked for significant salary cuts, but eventually, they rejected the 6-year agreement reductions proposed by the pilots.

Despite months of constructive dialogue from SAS pilots, they have decided to take industrial action after showing exemplary patience and high resilience in reaching an agreement with the mother company. It is clear that rather than negotiate, SAS would rather declare bankruptcy and force the workers into change, a disgusting tactic which goes against every principle of social dialogue.

This strike is the last resort in their fight to protect their job security and decent working conditions in the company. The ETF supports the position of the SAS pilots, and strongly disapproves of the most recent HR policy SAS is applying for pilots: instead of re-hiring old SAS pilots, the company have decided to give priority to hiring new pilots just because the new ones are part of some cheaper agreements within the two SAS subsidiaries: SAS Link and SAS Connect. The ETF also opposes SAS’s attempts to undercut the social dialogue process by declaring bankruptcy. These practices go against every principle of social dialogue and we will not stand for this.

From the 12th of July, Dansk Metal in SAS – including The Danish Pilot Association (Dansk Pilotforening (DPF) and Cabin Attendants Union (CAU) – has already announced a sympathy strike of their technicians and aircraft mechanics to support the ongoing pilots’ strike.

And ETF is joining them in their fight, making sure their voices are heard loud and clear and putting their problems at the table in discussions/negotiations at the EU level.

The SAS pilots are alone in their fight for their rights, and the trade union movement will support all actions they take to achieve fair and decent working conditions.

Because we know for sure that together, we are stronger!