Friday, July 26, 2013

One Air Freight Dispute Settles Whilst Another Cargo and Passenger Labour Scenario Worsens

Case Against Government and National Carrier Prosecuted by International Unions
Shipping News Feature

LUXEMBOURG – TURKEY – As one labour dispute at an air freight carrier seems to be heading for a resolution, another simply sees the relationship between a combined cargo and passenger carrier worsen. Our previous stories (1) (2) have outlined the problems besetting all cargo airline Cargolux and combination carrier Turkish Airlines (THY), but whilst the Luxembourg based outfit has announced details of an agreement with staff, international unions have yesterday lodged another complaint with the International Labour Organization (ILO), an official UN Body, alleging unlawful behaviour by both the national carrier and the Turkish government itself.

First the good news, on Wednesday, following an extended meeting between the Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (LCGB) and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Luxembourg (OGBL) and Cargolux management, all parties reached agreement on an addendum to form part of the Collective Work Agreement (CWA) in an effort to ensure reinstatement of this. In arriving at the new addendum, the management of the airline says it had revised its offer on several occasions in order to achieve an agreement that was acceptable to all parties. The effect of the addendum being accepted will be to reinstate the CWA up to the 31 December 2014 in return for the unions agreeing to the optimisation of working time with levels of activity in the airline.

Once the final wording of the new agreement has been arrived at it will be reviewed, and hopefully approved, by the ‘Comité Mixte’, or Joint Works Committee which is a body which Luxembourg employment law calls for in large companies, and is a combination of executive and union interests but with a union majority. There are still matters which need resolution, including a derogation request that will be made by the Cargolux to the ‘Direction de l’Aviation Civile (DAC)’ in respect of one of the items contained in the addendum, details of which were not revealed.

The management and unions are to cooperate to form joint working groups to be established throughout the airline to pursue other productivity and efficiency initiatives, often a sticking point in this type of situation. Both sides also agreed to a pilot ‘off-day pool’ scheme jointly managed by the pilot representatives and the company in order to provide resources for continuous productivity initiatives within flight operations and expressed mutual appreciation as to the spirit of the negotiations undertaken so far and which are continuing.

Sadly the situation between parties in the Turkish dispute are far from appreciative. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliated union Hava-Is have presented further evidence to the International Labour Organization (ILO) alleging unlawful behaviour by both THY and the Turkish government. The two organisations first lodged a complaint against Turkey with the ILO in March after accusing THY of the unfair dismissal of 305 workers and the glaring gaps in Turkish law they say it revealed, gaps which could not be reconciled with the country’s international commitments as a signatory of ILO conventions.

Since then the situation has worsened. THY, the national carrier in which the government has a controlling interest, has failed to implement orders that have so far found 200 cases of unlawful dismissal, and has been caught taking strike-breaking action outlawed under national law. This has been confirmed by the Istanbul Labour Court in a judgement which THY, which the unions say presumably has government support, is continuing to ignore.

After further accusations that aggressive police tactics have been used to intimidate union members protesting against the injustices and for the reinstatement of the sacked workers, ITF Civil Aviation Secretary Gabriel Mocho commented:

“This latest evidence is another nail in the coffin of the pretence by the Turkish government that it abides by international standards in its treatment of workers, protestors and unions. Since June of last year THY has sought to trample the rights of its workers, and the Turkish government has stood by and done nothing except seemingly nod its approval. Last year, THY unlawfully sacked 305 members of the Hava-Is union, don’t take our word for it, even the Turkish courts have found in the union’s favour. Yet THY is being allowed to continue to ignore the outcry and the continuing protests against its behaviour. That is why today we are presenting further evidence to this international forum and showing what is really happening in Turkey.”

The ITF has published their own full account of the dispute and this can be seen HERE.