Covid-19 "wake-up call"
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Pilot unions vow to fight contractor schemes

, © Mark Harkin

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LONDON - Covid-19 shakes the pilot job market. While government furlough and short-time work schemes protect airline staffers from immediate redundancies, one group faces unemployment: contract pilots. According to pilot union group ECA one out five European pilots works in an atypical framework.

"Agreement terminated", "your services no longer required", "your last salary may not be paid". This is what thousands of technically self-employed contractor pilots and cabin crew have been told by airlines or staffing agencies over the past few weeks.

"Atypical employment in aviation is merely a smokescreen for regular employment with the attached responsibilities ignored," says ECA President Jon Horne. "We have often warned that these broker agency set-ups and bogus self-employment schemes create a pool of disposable workers with diminished rights and no access to labour laws."

"Experience vacuum"

In the eyes of ECA, the current crisis is a "wake-up call" that "killed the last argument that the contractor model could be in some way good" for pilots. "Any national or EU financial aid or support to airlines must be made conditional on socially responsible behaviour and acting in the public interest."

In April, Norwegian Air closed crewing agencies effectively sending 1.570 pilots and 3.130 cabin crew into unemployment. CAE Crewing Services started a dismissal process for Spanish crews of SAS Ireland.

According to an ECA estimate, nearly one out of five European pilots is on a precarious contract. With young pilots the rate comes in even higher at 40 percent.

"Right now, we see airlines with sufficient liquidity laying off atypically employed aircrew workers, just because it is easy to do so", says ECA General ECA Secretary General Philip von Schöppenthau.  "Even experienced pilots will simply not manage to find a job, leaving an experience vacuum which will take years to rebuild."
© | Image: Norwegian | 04/05/2020 08:38

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