The European Transport Workers ‘Federation (ETF), representing more than 250.000 aviation workers from 82 national unions in 41 European countries, is committed to ensure fair working conditions and social rights in all aviation sub-sectors (airlines, air traffic management and airport services) and achieve social progress for all aviation workers.
Aviation is a strong driver of economic growth and jobs in the European Union, although, this sector is losing its power as an engine able to generate direct employment in numbers and in quality. In recent years, jobs offered are often outsourced, poorly paid and the precariousness of work in aviation has increased.
The overall message of the Commission’s “Aviation Strategy for Europe” is in line with a hyper-liberal and excessive market-driven attitude. The ETF does not approve this approach, as only business and market forces will decide the fate of the European aviation industry.
Apparently, the goal of the document would be in harmony with an attitude to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of the entire EU air transport value network. However, ETF is disappointed to see how the Commission only identifies the problems without offering real long-term sustainable solutions and concrete measures leading to foreseeable results. ETF notices the impasse in which the Commission leads the EU aviation sector as it keeps attention to only two of the pillars of sustainability – economic and environmental, while constantly and deliberately ignoring the third one – the social. This situation compromises the stability and viability of the whole system. Social dumping and flags of convenience, which are the day-to-day growing reality of the workers, are being totally ignored by the Commission.
For these reasons, the ETF is of the opinion that there is no real strategic vision on the Commission’s “strategy”. A holistic strategy needs to link growth, quality jobs, environment, development and a progressive social perspective. However, we agree on the Commission’s analysis about the importance of aviation and we believe that it is essential to see it as a fundamental part of the EU transport infrastructure.
Moreover, opening European aviation to unequal competition and hoping EU airlines will survive in the attempt is not realistic. Strong measures must be taken to protect EU aviation. This fundamental flaw in concept makes the document far from being adequate as to implement a real defence for the EU aviation industry and its workers, both on the ground and in the air.
In the framework of negotiations with third countries, it is vital to have fairness and reciprocity, the highest safety, security, labour and social standards, protection of jobs and working conditions, a fair distribution of the benefits of a still growing industry and the continuing public service element. Reciprocity must prevail in terms of market access and employment opportunities on both sides.
Future EU policies must be the cornerstone in which the EU should keep alive its hopes to maintain the EU aviation in a leading position worldwide. New competitors will not hesitate to use their strengths to impose a new global framework that may destroy EU companies, employment and social cohesion.
It is the mission of the EU Institutions to defend the EU aviation’s interests together with all stakeholders, including the social partners. En route to this aim, ETF is ready to establish a dialogue with the interested parties and institutions to defend a strategic aviation vision that includes all the concerns with particular reference to working conditions, employment,quality jobs, social rights which should serve as a basis for future global standards.