Europe as a global player in politics, industry, trade, culture and science, only to name the most obvious fields of modern societies, needs a competitive, healthy, well-financed and innovative aviation industry.
EurECCA as a worker organisation is well aware that only a vital aviation industry as described above can deliver safe and fair jobs with good working conditions to its employees.
The upcoming aviation strategy of the commission should take into account that connectivity to the world must be ensured by having a European – based aviation – industry under European legislation with European based employees under European legislation.
The Commission should also take into account that industry is not a worth by itself. The framework in which the industry works must make sure that workers rights are respected and further developed.
A framework of fair competition must refer to the European social model.
Only this can maintain the improvement of the European social model, which is a basic principle of our society and this must be enforced also in the civil aviation transport.
Fair working conditions for mobile workers as cabin crew are vital to the employers. There should be established a framework which take into account e.g. employment status, the social security, the working conditions as well as the fundamental human right to associate, to coordinate and to negotiate working conditions with the employers.
The aviation strategy should take into account the enforcement or internal regulation, e.g. that the above-mentioned rights are available to all European based workers and to their representative organisation. It should also be reinforced that operators operating under an European AOC from and to Europe must comply with the relevant European regulations in the field of safety, security, training, and social regulation.
Europe should investigate how internal unfair competition between airlines is undermining the strength of those carriers who comply with the social regulations in their countries.
Therefore a new framework must take into account the questions on cross- border legislation on taxation, social- security systems and so on.
A sustainable European airline industry needs well trained employees.
EurECCA supports the idea of open societies and therefore welcomes workers from all over the world to search for individual progress and through this to contribute to the European social model.
However, the different duties cabin crew has to perform have been intensified immensely during the last years. This refers to safety, security, crowd control, medical aspects, psychological and cultural background knowledge as well as language skills etc. Therefore the training of cabin crew must be intensified.
It is time to implement a license for cabin crew that ensures the quality of the training much more than the existing training certificate.
Taking into account that the many different duties cabin crews have to perform it should be enforced that all cabin crew employed under European AOC must be trained under European regulation.
Focusing on labour costs leads to the wrong answers.
As we have seen throughout the last 15 years since liberalization started, there has been an immense pressure on the labour costs in the European aviation industry.
In fact, cabin crew salaries have dropped down throughout the industry be establishing new pay levels within the existing airlines including pay-cuts, freezing salaries or even implementing new salaries schemes for new employees. Workers organization have so far always fought this process in order to slower it or to impede it.
Even worse, paying attention to the labour costs, the industry has seen the implementation of new pay schemes as so called “pay to fly” contracts or “zero hours pay” contracts as well as the new labour model of “temporary agencies”.
It must be ensured that these labour models are not used in the civil aviation industry to bypass social regulation, national social security systems, national tax- paying schemes and so on. Strict criteria must be implemented to avoid these labour models for cabin crew.
Cabin crew is also affected by that problem when establishing pay schemes that offer only very low guaranteed payment and forces the individual to fly to earn more money. This comes into effect especially when the guaranteed payment is to low to pay for the individual needs. Not to mention the severe impact on safety, security and medical matters undermined by that payment logic.
But even with these strategies the problem of cost-disadvantage has not disappeared. The answer therefore should not be to follow that “race to the bottom” contest but must be the establishment of fair social rules to all competitors in that industry under European legislation.
Concerning those competitors who, as foreign operators, do not operate under the EU- system (Gulf carriers, Turkey, etc.) it should be clear that costs and advantages by different labour law, different taxation, national state subsidiaries etc. must not lead to the diminishing of the European aviation industry.
Concerning the other statements it must be made clear that especially the Gulf carriers with their hub strategy focus on channeling existing traffic through their hubs by lower prizes. The direct traffic between these countries and the EU would not allow them the capacity they offer.
Non-EU carriers receive uncontrolled state subsidies and enjoy more favorable tax regimes than EU carriers:
The cost advantage of non-EU carriers are not mainly driven by direct labor costs who are significantly higher within the EU. Different taxation and/or social security system lead to a disproportion. The costs advantages by non-EU carriers are a conjunction from subsidiaries, lower airport charges, and subvention to fuel prices etc.
The still fragmented European labour market and the also fragmented social security systems cause unnecessary regulatory cost and procedures and negatively affect competitiveness. In fact, it is very difficult for both the employers as well as the workers organisations to establish and/or to negotiate well-maintained and sustainable collective agreements.
This mainly leads to INTERNAL unfair competition where the price is to be paid by most of the workers, most of the employers and by the European social system in total. (E.g. arising jobs not contributing to the relevant social system)
- Harmonize the EU internal policy on aviation strategy. It is clear to see that some member states are following different strategies on the aviation industry and that refers to their individual airline’s needs or the relevance of that question to them.
- International efforts to implement binding rules to avoid unfair competition and flags of convenience based on the ILO convention.
- Implementing strong and effective social regulation and overlooking these and already existing social rules when negotiating new aviation conventions between the EU and third countries.
- Reducing market growth or existing market access to those countries who do not comply with ILO conventions. This refers to external EU countries as well as the EU internal operators.
- Implementing an effective control and report system for the existing rules making sure that all employers/employees comply with the rules. An effective punitive system should be established.
- Providing more research data by analyzing the existing social reality in the transport sector.
- mplementing a EU wide authority where mobile workers can refer to when being hindered from carrying out their basic social rights.
Concerning specific issues in relation to international air transport, EurECCA welcomes the growth of the European transport sector with a European legislation that must ensure that future growth on international transport complies with minimum standards on social security and individual protection.
One recommendable way is to improve the participation opportunities for workers organisations within that sector. It should take into account that different organisations, on both side of the industry contribute to a broader picture of the social reality in the relevant field.
And new agreement should be analyzed before coming into effect on their outcome on social protection, environmental effects, fair competition, avoiding “flags of convenience” etc.
EurECCA strongly desagrees that the EU should intensify its efforts at multilateral level towards free access to markets and further liberalization of air transport through multilateral agreements. The reason is that liberalization over the last 15 years has just led to the situation the European aviation industry is now in, leading to the need of implementing a new strategy as we now seen. Further legislative effort must not be put in more liberalization but in the analysis of the outcome of the last years. Liberalization in aviation transport will only succeed for the EU as a whole when the overall social and financial aspects are taken into account.
Before thinking of more liberalization, the EU authorities, together with all relevant stakeholders, must concentrate on what is necessary for Europe concerning aviation transport and how, agreed by all stakeholders, these necessities can be achieved.
ILO conventions must be the minimum floor for every international player, region, country, or operator, to gain, future or existing, access to the market.
What is called “fair competition” must be based by strict legislation and the implementation on social and labor rules.
To safeguard the competitiveness of the civil aviation sector, EurECCA supports that some social issues need to be addressed and reinforced:
- The principal form of employment shall be a permanent, full-time contract with a minimum salary that guarantees the individual employee full access to social security. The human right of having access to bargaining and negotiation through workers representation must be granted to every individual.
- Implementing the possibility for European workers associations (national unions and/or European associations) to negotiate collective labour agreements cross national wide.
- ImprovingEU-regulationonHomeBasedefinition(Reg.83/2014and465/2012). The definition must refer to the real workplace, or, where the workplace itself is mobile (e.g. aircraft) where crew members starts and finishes his or her duty and where his or her living place is and where the worker has its social rest. (These regulations have to be enforced and very thoroughly discussed; therefore the statement given here is only to understand as basis principles)
- Definition of the principal of business (Reg.1008/2008). Carriers are free to establish business in one or several member states, there should be a reality on the ground related to substantial aviation business of an airline and the country issuing its AOC. The definition of principal place of business must not be arbitrarily chosen, but an assessment of the real location where the material resources and personnel of the Community air carrier are concentrated in a member state, including substantial aviation activities. The current regulation must be revised.
- Prevent social dumping and the replacement of EU crews with cheap labour from third countries to perform work on board of EU carriers. Cabin crew work permit deliverance must be strongly reinforced as the precondition to operate on board of flights of EU AOC carriers. The principle of community preference shall apply to all flights of the EU AOC holders touching the EU.
Cabin crew plays a vital role in implementing and enforcing safety and security in aviation.
Cabin crews are the employees who deal with passengers in the most intense way. Therefore Cabin Crews must be further trained to establish and to enforce effective standards of dealing with all safety/security situations onboard an aircraft.
As the flight crew concentrates on the flight itself and as the flight deck door is closed, Cabin Crews already deal with all the actual possible threats to aviation safety and/or security related to passengers. Not to forget the regular duties of Cabin Crews related to flight safety aspects.
Therefore the role of Cabin Crew shall be strengthened and further recognized.
To reach this, the development and implementation of a occupational profile “Cabin Crew” as a precondition to work on european aircraft (AOC) could ensure the quality of these jobs and would also comply with the EU- initiative on implementing quality jobs in Europe ((2014/2235 (INI), Creating a competitive EU labour market for the 21st century: matching skills and qualifications with demand and job opportunities, as a way to recover from the crisis).