On Monday, the pilot strike at SAS was a reality. 30,000 passengers are affected every day. At the same time, the strike costs the company NOK 100 million every day.
At the center of the labor dispute are two recent subsidiaries, SAS Connect and SAS Link. These employ pilots and cabin crew on new terms. SAS management says this is necessary to compete with holidaymakers in particular. SAS pilots say it is a matter of breaching the contract SAS already has with them.
Also important is whether the roughly 450 pilots still out of work after the pandemic will be offered jobs at the same SAS company they were fired from, or at the same pay and working hours as they were before. The SAS joins are employed with slightly lower wages and slightly longer working hours.
This is the controversy in the pilot strike
Pilots are on strike because they fear they will lose many of their working conditions if they apply for jobs at SAS’ new subsidiary. This is a recent development.
Here are the terms of SAS Scandinavia and SAS Connect that pilots are now fighting against:
Pilot captains in the SAS log 10 years and more in the air, earn lower salaries, and have salary increases every year instead of every year.
After 17 years on the air, you’ve also hit the ceiling for base salary at Connect.
A flight captain with 10 years flying at SAS Scandinavia earns NOK 990,506. A flight captain with similar experience at SAS Connect earns over 899,190.
After 17 years as a flight captain at SAS Scandinavia, you earn NOK 1,155,534. SAS Connect earns 1,078,410. This base salary is never higher for Connect Captains.
SAS Scandinavia earns up to NOK 1,336,202 after 25 years on the air.
Pilots have said SAS has offered to take a 5 per cent pay cut in Scandinavia. This means that the wage gap between Scandinavia and Connect has halved compared to what it is today.
Note: Most SAS pilots have at least 10 years before becoming a captain.
Several working days
SAS Connect has 3-6 additional work days per year, depending on which shift you are on.
Employees with predictable shifts at Link have to work 190 days a year, compared to 184 at SAS Scandinavia.
Additionally, the cycle looks a bit different in Connect and Scandinavia.
At SAS Scandinavia, pilots work five days before four days off. This cycle runs throughout the year.
At SAS Connect, you work five days, four days off, five days work and three days off.
On a variable shift, i.e. you receive the next month’s work list in the middle of the previous month, you work 180 days a year at SAS Scandinavia and 183 days at SAS Link.
In addition, those who work in conjunction must agree to work less in the off-season in winter and more in the summer. They have different rules for what counts as a weekend holiday. SAS management believes that these rules allow the operation of multiple flights with the same number of pilots.
Pilots: It’s not about collective agreements
Roger Cloxet, president of the Norwegian SAS pilots’ association, says they are not reacting to the content of the collective agreements in Connect and Link.
– We react to you restarting SAS and saying that Connect and Link are new entities. They are flying the same aircraft, the same passengers, on the SAS routes we operated before the pandemic, and are telling our laid off people that they have no right to work for those companies again. We think that is wrong. These are our jobs, these are our collective agreements.
Kjetil Håbjørg, Norway’s CEO at SAS, said it was about restructuring SAS to fit the new market.
– New companies have adapted to the leisure market where you fly longer on weekends and in the summer. It is important to keep in mind that wages and working conditions are determined by the market. Pilots and employers must find themselves in this.
Gnani rejects that argument.
– This is just nonsense. All of our passengers have flown with SAS on leisure trips and weekends away. An SAS pilot can work three out of four weekends a month, seven days a week, all holidays and all holidays.
– SAS flights are operated by SAS pilots
An important point Cloxett made was that pilots could lose their seniority if they started in the SAS ranks.
– A pilot that changes the company restarts, and SAS can now make it by restarting. This means that all old employees applying for jobs in new companies lose all accrued seniority including salary seniority.
According to SAS, pilots are hired on the same terms based on experience, but not necessarily on the salary level they earned.
Håbjørg still believes that there are no major differences between SAS Scandinavia and Connect.
– The salary is good and often high, but there are other conditions that suit a different market. We need that because the market is changing, he says.
The time required for the parties to reach an agreement is reasonable.
– SAS should come to us and say that they respect the intent of our collective agreements and that SAS flights must be flown by SAS pilots. Then, we need to agree on an amicable arrangement on how to quickly re-employ those who have been laid off.
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