Next year will be an election year: we will elect the new Members of the European Parliament and a new European Commission will be appointed. With the major political parties already in campaigning mode, it’s time to look at the achievements of the current Commission. And also to remind about some of the promises that were made almost four years ago.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission wanted to “ensure that social dumping has no place in the European Union." In fact, we see quite the opposite: social dumping has become the norm, not the exception in the European aviation industry. With the low cost market leaders in Europe setting the standards, the “race to the bottom” has not yet stopped. The new contracts for pilots of Ryanair Sun in Poland are a chilling example of everything that went wrong with employment & working conditions in Europe.
The new contracts for pilots of Ryanair Sun in Poland are a chilling example of everything that went wrong with employment & working conditions in Europe.
Violeta Bulc promised last year to “deliver” on the Social Pillar for aviation in 2018. So far, we haven’t seen anything concrete materialise. Still, pilots & flight attendants all over Europe are suffering under atypical & temporary employment, based on choosing the “weaker” among the European labour laws. Still, there is no strengthened definition for the home base of flight crews and the local labour law attached to this base. And still, it is very comfortable for certain airlines to go forum shopping for the lowest standards on labour, control & oversight.
The European Union is based on two important pillars: the first is “Freedom of Establishment” for any company from inside the EU, which creates a completely open market. The second is “Free Movement of Labour”, which assures any European citizen the ability to freely choose his/her workplace. But what, if these two pillars de facto lead to what was described above: social dumping? What, if all that workers in the EU actually experience as a consequence of such liberalisation is atypical & temporary employment and restrictions on basic rights, like representation or right to strike?What if rather than you freely choosing where you work, the employer is the one making that choice? Will these people not turn away from the ideas of the EU and call for more nationalistic and protective approaches?
Pilots & flight attendants all over Europe are suffering under atypical & temporary employment, based on the “weaker” among the European labour laws
What a coincidence: exactly that seems to be happening all over Europe. The opponents of the European ideas have an easy argument these days: this is not the union of the people, but the union of profits.
From my point of view it is not too late to convince people that the ideas about a united Europe are actually worth pursuing. In the past years we have solved all the easy tasks, like creating open markets & liberalising market rules. Now we need to solve the difficult ones: identify what has gone wrong & change it, so that people regain their trust in the European Union.
After being President of the European Cockpit Association for four years, this will be my last editorial. From December my successor will take over. I am sure that ECA will continue to stand strong for the pilot profession in the coming years, thanks to the support of many! And I am convinced that for our profession, the best is yet to come!
Thank you all for your support in the past years, it was a pleasure working for & with you!
by Dirk Polloczek, ECA President