Trans-Atlantic Market: Pilots Expect a Re-Balance of their Bargaining Rights

The week of the 22-27 June, the European Commission will host the EU-US air transport negotiations that will include a two-day "Labour Forum", a Joint Committee meeting and two-day negotiations of the stage 2 EU-US air transport agreement.

The first stage agreement, implemented one year ago, encapsulates a provision called 'Joint Committee' to monitor its appropriate implementation. This provision set up the rules of a mechanism that allows both parties to call for a meeting when they notice an inappropriate implementation of the air service agreement. In this context, the EU and the US can raise problems that affect the workforce and particularly the mobile staff that is the most affected category of workers.

The European Cockpit Association together with US ALPA have identified that the industrial relations on the trans-Atlantic market have been weakened as a consequence of the EU-US agreement – and this to the detriment of air crew. Therefore, efficient measures are needed to rebalance this situation; otherwise none of the Pilots' Association will be in a position to support any further negotiations on a stage 2 agreement.

To identify and assess these problems, the European Commission organised a Labour Forum in December last year, involving all major stakeholders, including ECA and US ALPA. A second similar event will be held this June and will focus on the potential solutions to rebalance this undesirable situation.

ECA and US ALPA require that mobile workers across the Atlantic are able to collectively negotiate and agree their Collective Labour Agreements, and they have the practical ability to enforce them. Pilots managed by a single management should be able to be represented by a single Union, whether or not the Company bases its crew in two or more countries across the Atlantic. If employees do not defend their bargaining rights, the implications include the end of Pilots' Unions with the loss of all the expertise that these highly skilled and professional workers provide. The outcome of the June Labour Forum will shape the future ECA and US ALPA position on the EU-US stage 2 agreement.