In February Cockpit News reported the unprecedented decision of a Swedish company to dismiss all pilots and engage new ones through a broker. The Swedish pilots have not remained inactive and are determined to fight this move. They count on the support of the pilot associations in Europe and worldwide because it is a problem that concerns all pilots.
The first sign of a problem is a company that unilaterally revokes the collective agreements and decides to dismiss its workforce. No negotiations, no compromises, only the hard line. The airline wishes to become a virtual airline: no pilots on the payroll, no employees... no planes? Negotiated contracts with subcontractors in order to achieve the lowest prices in all areas. At this point the airline will no longer be responsible for salaries, training.... What about safety? Will they also outsource safety? Is that possible in aviation, a company that outsources the safety of its operations?
There are other issues related to this case. One example is taxes. The Swedish pilots have shown that the use of foreign based employment brokers can result in an evasion of taxes, since the social security and revenue taxes of those pilots could be paid outside Sweden and even outside the EU.
There are safety concerns. One example is CRM. Crew resource management (CRM) is dependent on and trained against a company culture. How is it possible to develop a company culture when the pilots do not belong to the company hiring them? What about Captains’ Authority? Are contract pilots sufficiently secure to take independent decisions? Would you like to fly on an aircraft where the pilots are potentially distracted by the renewal of their contract.
The Swedish pilots are fighting on all possible fronts. There is a judicial process open to test the conformity of the procedures to the law, they have constant contact with the national and European institutions and they are also showing their determination to find a solution through an industrial action which took place on the 16th of June. But most of all, the pilots are defending their collective agreement and are negotiating with their company to change their decision.
European pilots fully support the negotiations engaged by the Swedish pilots which must result in an agreement which is satisfactory and respectful of their rights.