Employment, contracts and pay checks

The European Union’s Directive on Temporary Work will in a few words, reduce the economic difference between temporary workers and permanent workers.

The purpose of this Directive is to ensure the protection of temporary agency workers and to improve the quality of temporary agency work by ensuring that the principle of equal treatment, as set out in Article 5, is applied to temporary agency workers, and by recognising temporary-work agencies as employers, while taking into account the need to establish a suitable framework for the use of temporary agency work with a view to contributing effectively to the creation of jobs and to the development of flexible forms of working.

Yes, that was one sentence.

I have yet to make up my mind if I want to vote for or against the Directive during this summer’s national convention for the Young Conservative Party. Both opponents and supporters of the directive within the party, argue that they want more temporary workers, and a more flexible work environment. I agree, I think it is important to have flexible employment opportunities, but I think that only applies to certain sectors. And aviation is certainly not that type of sector.

Either way, if the Directive is passed, and employers will have to pay the same wage to a temporary worker, as a permanent worker (which is a good thing), temporary workers will still have loads of challenges. How are they supposed to go to the bank and apply for a loan to buy a house, if they can’t provide proof of permanent employment?

Why would I argue against the use of contract employees or temporary workers in the aviation industry? Because it is a great financial risk for the employee. It increases stress. It leaves the employee feeling insecure about his/her job situation. All these impacts will be brought in to the flight deck. I don’t want stressed out, fatigued pilots, flying my plane.

There is an ongoing struggle between the Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS, Norwegian low-cost carrier) and their pilots. The CEO of NAS, Bjørn Kjos wants to reduce costs to compete with other European low-cost operators such as Ryanair and Wizz Air. Understandable. I think that reducing cost is essential, because the Norwegian market needs NAS as a competitor, to the partly-government-owned Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). NAS plans on starting long-haul operations starting next year with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I would love to fly for Norwegian, and the Dreamliner, but my dream might just remain that way – a dream.

Bjørn Kjos has announced, through Rishworth Aviation, pilot openings for their LH-ops, The catch is – you have to be based in Bangkok, Thailand. No matter how tempting that may sound when you’re in your 20s and would love to live in a warm, humid climate, I’m not so sure how established pilots with families, kids, station wagon and a furry dog would appreciate that the same way.

Norwegian might be in clear weather right now, but I see some potential Cumulonimbuses brewing in the horizon.

The pilots currently employed (permanently), of course, are not very happy about the situation, and are threatening the company with a potential strike.

NAS’s answer to a possible strike? Wet-lease aircrafts from other carriers in Europe. Sparking even more tension to the situation, and leaving the papers full with stories of Norwegian-passengers boarding “filthy” and “unsafe” (passengers’ words) airplanes from Latvia.

The pilots say it’s not about the wages (because they are good) but more about the employment situation. This supports my idea that it is better to be permanently employed, rather than temporarily, with a possible lower pay check each month, but with good job security.

The cost of living in Norway is horrendous. It is so expensive to live here, which forces the employers to every year increase the pay checks for their workers. This applies to all sectors. I think we are approaching a limit here, very soon. Just look at the shipping industry. I fear that the same situation that we see there today, with the Captain being Scandinavian, and the rest of the crew from the Philippines, will be the state of the aviation industry in the future if we don’t do something.

My thoughts:

– Vote in FAVOR of the Directive on temporary work, so that employers loose a financial incentive to hire part time workers (with the Directive implemented, it will be just as “expensive” for the employer to hire part time v.s permanently)

– Advocate for permanent employment contracts in the aviation sector, with the consequence that the pay check will be slightly reduced, but with an increase in job security

– Allow for a flexible employment situation in areas it is deemed appropriate. I repeat, aviation is not such an area.

– Cecilie

Posted on April 19, 2012, in aviation and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Cecilie, this is fascintating. So… who would write the rules and determine which positions are “appropriate?” I agree… aviation is not that area!

    Stability is essential for the company and safety too. There is a reason when someone is fired, they are asked to leave now and given their severance. Because an employee who knows they don’t have a job tomorrow is less than stable. It would seem that if a company has an investment in a fultime pilot, that they will have a dedicated pilot.

    The issues with permanent vs part time in the US is usually the extras that come with permanent such as medical insurance, sick leave, vacation days… etc., all expenses to the company. So is this why they don’t want permanent pilots. Is it the same in Norway?

    • Karlene,

      Figuring out who can be hired permanently or temporarily, is a challenge. I think however that by implementing the Directive, employers loose the financial advantage by hiring a temporary worker rather than a permanent. But with the Directive implemented, those who are working on a temporary contract, will have the same benefits as a permanent worker with regards to wages and so on.

      Yes you are right, the difference between permanent and temporary workers are the same in the US and Norway. But when Norwegian Air shuttle wants to hire people in Bangkok, and pay taxes to Thailand, they will loose the social benefits from Norway. I forgot to mention, the Bangkok-based crew are still required to hold a EU passport and have a valid JAA ATPL. This is where it gets tricky.

      I haven’t read enough about the directive to know if the social benefits will be offered to temporary workers if the directive is passed in the Parliament. I think it will though. And that’s important.

      But the job security just isn’t there and that is what scares me the most because I value job security higher than wages.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • I hope you can shut this down. Once one carrier does something like this, others try to follow. I wish the pilots could hold strong and not work for them. If they had nobody to accept the position, they would have to do something else… maybe permanent. Fascinating stuff. Keep after them!

  2. From my humble knowledge some employers here in NYC will only hire on a part time basis until the employee passes a three month probation. Once they see the employee is “reliable” they will take the probation off, promote the employee full time, and give him/her full benefits. It’s all about cost effective measures as the cost of living here in NYC is skyrocket as are many other places, like Norway.

    • That is a good way to do it, I agree. It gives flexibility to the employer (useless employee = get rid of him/her) – and security and stability to the employee!

  1. Pingback: What others are doing cheaper, I have to do better | Cecilie Larsen

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