Hungarian Pilots: the Success of Unity!

In October 2010 after a successful warning strike, Malév pilots succeeded in having their management agree on a 6-month validity for their collective labour agreement (CLA). At that time, ECA encouraged Malév management to continue on this path and improve communication with their pilots’ union. ECA strongly believes that commercial success and high safety standards in the aviation business can best be achieved by an open dialogue between management and pilot representatives. Unfortunately, time has shown that Malév executives have a different approach, by refusing to enter into negotiations they demonstrated once more their non-cooperative approach. On March 23,Hunalpa held a warning strike in front of the Malév HQ as the airport refused to give them the authorisation to stand on its premises.

Hunalpa organised this first event to signal that further more damaging actions for the commercial activities of the company could follow if management continued its non-cooperative approach. Malév understood the message and eventually agreed to sign a balanced Collective Agreement.

Besides Malév’s avoidance of dialogue with its pilots’ representatives, it is worrying that part of the conflict was about Malév trying to use FTL Subpart Q provisions to undermine the national working time directive. Worse, the Hungarian Civil Aviation did not intervene by stopping the Company from taking an unlawful step. It is essential that national authorities ensure and enforce a stable and strong legal framework to guarantee the implementation of European and National legislation to ensure CLAs are respected and to encourage social partners to work together!

ECA congratulates Hunalpa for its professionalism and for maintaining unity within their members at a time when management tries to whipsaw pilots’ groups. To remain relevant and effective in its bargaining purpose and in its safety advisory role, professional pilots’ unions have to stand firm. ECA, the regional body of IFALPA, will always support any of its associations and make sure that EU politicians are aware of the bad practices such as the Malév case. ECA will continue using these cases to strive for better enforcement of workers’ rights on collective bargaining and of working time legislation and safety standards.