Strike called for Avro pilots

26 September 2006

Swiss Pilots Association, the union representing the pilots of Swiss European Air Lines, yesterday evening suddenly called on all Avro pilots to conduct a one-day strike. The strike is set to begin this morning, September 26, at 05:30 (Central European Time). SWISS regrets this action and is doing its utmost to minimise the impact on passengers.

The apparent objective of the SPA in calling the strike is to bring about a negotiated Collective Labour Agreement for its members to replace the valid individual contracts of employment that have been valid since April 1 of this year. Under the employment conditions currently in effect Swiss European is able to operate profitably. SWISS wants to find a balance in future between the competitiveness of Swiss European and the concerns of its employees. To this end, discussions initiated by Swiss European took place at the beginning of September, with both sides agreeing to resume talks at the beginning of October, the purpose being to create the basis for a functional social partnership. SWISS regrets that the SPA has abandoned the option of dialogue unexpectedly and without putting detailed demands on the table. Swiss European requests that the striking Avro-Pilots resuming work with immediate effect.

CLA rejected in March A Collective Labour Agreement negotiated by SWISS and Swiss Pilots was approved in March by a majority of the members of the SPA but the agreement failed by a narrow margin to gain the approval of the two-thirds majority required by statute. The essential trust required for a social partnership was harmed at that time by Swiss Pilots’ manipulation of the vote. As a consequence, SWISS no longer recognised the social partnership. With the individual contracts of employment that have since been in effect Swiss European continues to live up to its responsibilities as the employer of the Avro pilots and offers them conditions of employment that are in line with the market. These valid contracts enable Swiss European to operate its Avro fleet competitively, even in the tough struggle against low-cost carriers. Over the past 12 months this has also allowed SWISS to expand the Avro fleet by 30 per cent. Job cuts for operational reasons were thus avoided during the restructuring process and the Avro pilots were offered the prospect of a sustained future.

Swiss European is interested in establishing a loyal, future-oriented, trust-based social partnership and is keeping open its existing offer to engage in dialogue with the Avro pilots.

SWISS will provide regular information about the effects of the strike on flight operations in Europe and on further developments in this labour dispute.