The cataclysm continues for airlines globally. In a recent and rather unpleasant event, the Icelandair Group has decided to dismiss all the cabin crew employees. As per the report by The Reykjavik Grapevine, the airline has fired all of its flight attendants. The company will instead find another party in the Icelandic labour market to handle the respective responsibilities.
Till then, the void shall be filled by placing the responsibility on the airline’s pilots. The decision was taken after several efforts to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement regarding wages and time-off between employees and management failed.
On July 8, 2020, Icelandair’s cabin crew members rejected an agreement, which also included several ways in which the airline could weather the current dip in travel demand. In last round of voting, about 73% of union members declined Icelandair‘s offer while only 27% accepted. Icelandair Group stated that subsequent talks have ended without coming to any conclusion.
The company stated:
‘Although the negotiations were continued after the results of the voting were announced, it has now become evident that a mutually agreed conclusion will not be reached.’
The airline shall assign their pilots to do the jobs of flight attendants as Icelandair is operating limited operations currently, and hence, inflight service is extremely limited. Executives of the carrier have stated that they have done everything to meet the demands of the flight attendants. However, the impasse has forced them to take the “heavy but necessary” decision.
In response, the head of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour has stated:
‘We are exploring every avenue to prevent this. This is unbelievably shameless on Icelandair’s part. It shows disrespect for the workers and disrespect for the rules in place regarding the Icelandic labour market and those in the midst of negotiations.’
Following the decision to end negotiations, 38 cabin crew have already been laid off. 900 flight attendants had previously been fired as a result of evaporated travel demand. Like majority of the aviation industry, Icelandair too, has been struggling financially. The management has been seeking new ways to reorganize and streamline business.
Analysts have pointed out that Icelandair might opt to begin negotiations with the labour union that represented pilots and the cabin crew of WOW Air. Till that happens, don’t be surprised to see some pilots in Icelandair’s cabin crew!
We are following this event closely. Stay tuned!