The European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF), organising more than 250,000 civil aviation workers across Europe, follows with great concern the latest developments among the airline employers' associations at European level. In particular, the ETF is concerned about the future of the sectoral social dialogue in this sector of the industry.
The European social dialogue, as enshrined in Articles 152 – 155 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), is one of the key features of the European social policy. The ETF has been active in the sectoral social dialogue committee since its establishment and would like to underline the added value of joint initiatives of employers and workers' representatives. The examples of the European agreement on the organisation of working time of mobile staff in civil aviation, the statements on vocational training in ground handling and on the workplace health promotion or the current project on the legal and the industry standards of the ground handling directive illustrate the possibility of having concrete outcome for the industry and its workers. Many initiatives and joint statements were also adopted on the Single European Sky.
However, several airlines decided to leave the Association of European Airlines (AEA) which has been a long-standing social partner. In parallel, some of them together with current AEA airlines and some low fares airlines decided to create the newly-formed Airlines for Europe (A4E) which explicitly excluded social affairs from its remit. Together with a decreased interest of some other social partners, these developments can lead to a paralysis of social dialogue in aviation at EU level. Therefore, the ETF is concerned about the future of the joint work in the aviation sectoral social dialogue committee.
Given the future challenges in terms of the revision of the remit of the European Aviation Safety Agency, the revision of the Regulation 868/2004 concerning protection against subsidisation and unfair pricing practices, the future assessment of Regulations 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services and 96/67 on ground handling services or negotiation of comprehensive Air Services Agreements with a number of third countries, this can be fatal for the European aviation industry.
In line with Commissions' commitment to strong dialogue which has been reiterated in the Aviation Strategy for Europe, the ETF therefore calls on all airlines’ associations to engage into constructive and meaningful social dialogue with their counterparts representing workers. The ETF believes that joint work of employers and workers has a considerable added value and may influence the decision-making process at EU level. Furthermore, it may also show a way for proper social dialogue at national and company levels and reduce unnecessary tensions.