Social Partners Debate Aviation Crisis

At the annual plenary meeting in June, ECA and our fellow social partners voiced concern about the crisis into which European aviation has started to slip. Using the European sectoral Social Dialogue for civil aviation as a forum, employees and employers were equally concerned about the future of their industry and the social consequences.

After the effects of 9/11 had just started to fade, a number of "external pressures" are yet again putting the industry and many jobs at risk. Fuel prices are at record levels, security costs continue to be considerable, and economic growth in many countries is weakening.

Hanging over all of this is the Damocles sword of the future Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector. When initially proposed by the European Commission, the ETS sent shock waves throughout the industry. Since then, the proposal has been tightened by the European Parliament, putting an even bigger burden on the sector. What started as a shock wave, when the price of oil was at $40/barrel, will become a Tsunami if fuel remains above $120/barrel.

Social partners were unanimous in considering this cocktail of external pressures as a recipe for a social disaster. With employee costs being one of the few remaining "variable" costs, ECA is concerned that job losses, attacks on our terms and conditions, and worsening industrial relations will follow , accompanied by mergers, outsourcing and bankruptcies. The European Institutions - and in particular the European Parliament - need to keep that in mind when having their final word on ETS.