Strike averted, bumpy ride still ahead

  • 2013-01-09
  • From wire reports

CLIPPED WINGS: The airline faces more job cuts to stay aloft.

TALLINN - The council of Estonian national carrier Estonian Air approved on Monday the collective labor agreement with the pilots’ trade union Estonian Airline Transport Pilots’ Association (EATPA), meaning that the strike the pilots threatened to start on Tuesday was cancelled, reports LETA.
Public Broadcasting reported that Estonian Air’s council chairman Erkki Raasuke told the press Monday evening that the company’s council approved of the collective labor agreement. Raasuke said that the agreement was approved in an updated way and should bring more flexibility. “The agreement that was concluded with the pilots trade union is a small step in the right direction,” said Raasuke, as reported by Aripaev Online. “It is a pity that so much time and money had to be spent on reaching that step.”

Estonian Air board chairman Jan Palmer said that the situation at the airline is still very difficult - especially financially. “I am glad that the strike threat is over. Now the situation is that we have to regain the trust of customers,” he said.
According to Delfi, Palmer added that 40-50 people have lost jobs in the company so far and 30-40 more will be made redundant. Estonian Air will continue flying on 9 routes.

“The pilots are satisfied,” said ATPA manager Rauno Menning on Monday after the agreement was approved. “The compromise was bilateral and didn’t come easily. The result satisfies all situations, work peace is assured and the strike is cancelled,” he added. Menning said that the collective labor agreement will be valid till Jan. 31, 2014. He didn’t reveal the exact conditions of the agreement.

Estonian Airline Transport Pilots’ Association (ATPA) sent a strike announcement to Estonian national carrier Estonian Air before Christmas saying a strike would be launched on Jan. 7 aiming to get a collective labor agreement concluded between the airline and the pilots trade union.

After three days of negotiations last week, Estonian Air’s board and ATPA reached an agreement on the conditions of the pilots’ collective labor agreement on Saturday. ATPA manager Rauno Menning said that the agreement leaves the wage conditions of pilots unchanged but introduces changes to work and resting time conditions.
If the council had not approved of the agreement, pilots would have launched a strike at 5.30 Tuesday morning. Initially they had announced the launch of the strike on Monday but postponed it after negotiations with the management turned fruitful.

Risky business
Pilots were aware that the planned strike could have resulted in the company’s bankruptcy, reported Eesti Paevaleht. However, the pilots claimed that the cause of the planned strike was the employers, Estonian Air, canceling the collective labor agreement, concluded in 2008, last August, so that it would come into force six months later, on Feb. 9, 2013, and then offer the pilots a new agreement that would give up the so called age-listing system, which benefits staff members who have worked longer in the company.

“If the strike comes, Estonian Air [is finished],” said 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.”