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Strike paralyzing Estonian Air may be cancelled after a secret meeting

  • 2013-01-03

TALLINN - Pilots of Estonian national carrier Estonian Air on Wednesday evening launched negotiations with the management of the company to give up the planned strike that could result in the company's bankruptcy, Eesti Paevaleht reports.

Head of the pilots’ trade union, the Estonian Airline Transport Pilots' Association (ATPA), Rauno Menning and Estonian Air's board chairman Jan Palmer had a confidential meeting Wednesday evening, avoiding publicity, in order to reach an agreement on the collective labor agreement that has become the cause of the dispute.

"It is our will that there wouldn't come a strike," Menning said Wednesday afternoon, before the start of the talks quite unexpectedly. Right before Christmas, he shocked passengers and employers with the decision to start a strike on January 7 to force the company to conclude a collective labor agreement suitable for pilots.

"We wish today (yesterday – ed.) to meet with board chairman Jan Palmer," Menning said now. "A new collective labor agreement, even a temporary agreement, would enable to give up the strike plan," he said.

Menning rejected the negotiations offered by State Arbitrator Henn Parn with the management of Estonian Air, declaring that he wants to achieve an agreement without mediators.

Eesti Paevaleht could not get a comment from Estonian Air's manager Palmer but the company confirmed that the negotiations took place.

The pilots say that the cause of the planned strike is the employers, Estonian Air AS cancelling the collective labor agreement, concluded in 2008, last August, so that it comes in force six months later or on February 9, 2013, and offering the pilots a new agreement, that would give up the so called age-listing system, which prefers staff member who have worked longer in the company.

"If the strike comes, Estonian Air ends operating,” says Tallinn Airport board member Erik Sakkov. "We have no reason to believe that other carriers would start flying on Estonian Air's routes when it goes bankrupt, meaning that instead of the nearly 40 destinations last summer, just 9 will remain."