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Good to talk: easyJet management and pilots redefine transnational bargaining

Ryanair’s sudden U-turn and willingness to talk to unions dazzled the industry. Amid all the media-hype that followed, one real success story of employee relations and transnational collective bargaining remained out of the spotlight. easyJet and its pilots – under the easyJet Pilot Group (ePG) – have been ambitiously redefining transnational bargaining. With already a series of meetings taking place and clear commitments from both sides, chances are this would be the first ever pilot group in Europe to successfully negotiate company-wide transnational matters. And this is actually a big news!

The first talks between easyJet’s employee relations team, management and pilots took place in October & November 2017. The discussions focused on establishing a transfer protocol for all easyJet pilots across the network, allowing them to move between the company’s 26 bases across the UK and Europe. Having a common transfer protocol – within a transnational airline – is a valuable tool to all pilots and management.

easyJet and its pilots – under the easyJet Pilot Group – have been ambitiously redefining transnational bargaining

At the centre of these positive developments stands ePG. It represents flight crew from all bases of the airline across Europe and has been established over 10 years ago under the umbrella of ECA & its Member Associations. In fact, already in 2006, pilots were ready to negotiate on common issues, including safety culture, pilot training, promotions, social security changes in Europe and base transfers. But it took some time, having the ePG accepted as a legitimate transnational representative for all pilots. And it is only after the relationship between pilots and management had reached a historic low in 2016 – with tensions and strike actions in some countries – that things started to change.

Today, easyJet management seems to have turned the page. easyJet pilots are constructively joining the talks with management and seeking solutions to company-wide matters. (For this, union representatives are also allowed time off the roster to prepare and attend those meetings.)

Already in 2006 pilots were ready to negotiate on common issues but it took over 10 years to have the ePG accepted as a transnational representative for all pilots

You’re wondering what’s in for easyJet? Efficiency seems to be the key here. The airline has realised that it is more efficient to deal with its pilots on European level rather than with each union individually. An airline confronted with different agreements in multiple countries can barely optimize its costs and operations. And for pilots this is a unique opportunity to – at last – have meaningful Europe-wide negotiations with the ultimate aim of signing a a collective labour agreement.


easyJet Pilot Group

The easyJet Pilot Group (ePG) was founded in 2006 with a ground-breaking agreement between BALPA (UK), Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), SNPL/France ALPA), ANPAC (Italy) and Swiss ALPA, signed at the ECA Conference in Brussels. Find out more about our work on transnational airlines & pilot representation.