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ISSUE 71 page 4

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Deal in Norwegian airline dispute ends 11-day strike

RYANAIR HAS LED THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY IN REDUCING its costs at the expense of terms and conditions of employment, often coming into conflict with the authorities, but now it seems that there is a new contender in Norwegian Air Shuttle, often known as Norwegian Air. Not content with hiring staff from Thailand at $500 a month (see issue 65) the company recently threatened to bankrupt its own subsidiary, Norwegian Air Norway, leaving 700 pilots without jobs, in response to a strike. Trade unions believed that they planned to persuade the sacked workers to sign on with an employment agency which would then lease them back to the  airline at greatly reduced wage rates. A spokesman for the Parat union said ‘We will take the company to court and then we will argue that this is just a phoney bankruptcy, and that the pilots’ rights should be transferred from the daughter to the mother company’. However, after an 11-day strike, which affected 200,000 passengers, an agreement was reached that guarantees the Scandinavian pilots’ employment until 2017 in return for some concessions on pensions and wages.
The underlying problem does not appear to have been solved though. According to Martin Lindgren, president of the Swedish Airline Pilots Association, which has members who fly for Norwegian Air. ‘The cost-driven approach by Norwegian will cause harm to the working conditions for all airline employees in Europe and the U.S. They are importing working conditions from Southeast Asia’.

 

Increase minimum wage say unions in Hungary
German unions sign up to new apprenticeship pact
IN-WORK POVERTY HAS INCREASED THROUGHOUT THE EU since the financial crash and Hungary is no exception. About one million people, about a quarter of the working population, are earning less than the official subsistence level of €288 a month for a single person or €835 for a family of four. This has increased from 18% in 2008. The low minimum wage is one of the chief culprits according to trade unions. Although its gross value went up by 47% between 2008 and 2014 employees only received a rise of 18% because tax credits were abolished. Consequently it now represents 73.4% of the subsistence level compared to 78.3% in 2008. The LIGA and MSZOSZ federations have proposed a 10% rise every year until 2018 when the minimum wage should be equal to the subsistence level. They also want to abolish the rule which sets wages in public works schemes at 76% of the minimum. Large employers believe that any increase must wait until the general economy is stronger but managers in SMEs would prefer a multi-year agreement on wages to enable them to plan ahead.  The government, on the other hand has said that it prefers annual deals
A NEW PUSH TO INCREASE THE NUMBERS OF apprentices and school-age interns as well as to reduce the amount of those leaving education without a certificate has won the support of trade unions in Germany. The DGB federation will now join with employers, government ministries and the Federal Employment Agency (BA) in an alliance for vocational and further training. The previous ‘Pact on Apprenticeship’ was opposed by the DGB on the grounds that ‘The young people in these programmes had no real prospects for their future’ (see issue 58). The new scheme will run from 2015 to 2018 and aims to develop a statistical system to assess the state of vocational training as well as strengthening it. Employers have promised to provide 500,000 internships and 20,000 apprenticeships over and above those already in place. DGB Chair Reiner Hoffmann, highlighting the plight of 260,000 young people stuck in preparatory vocational training, hoped that the new assisted training programme will help them to obtain a qualification. The BA will provide guidance for small companies (SMEs) on implementing a training plan for young workers.
Equal Pay Day in Estonia

 ON APRIL 21st THE ESTONIAN ASSOCIATION OF BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN (BPW) held an Equal Pay Day. The date was carefully chosen as it represents the point in the year when the earnings of the average female worker caught up with wages paid to the average male worker in 2014. In other words women need to work for 16 months to earn what men do in 12. A gender pay gap of 29.9% (Eurostat) sees the Baltic country at the bottom of the EU league table for equality. In this not only is it doing much worse than its east European neighbours such as Lithuania (13.3%) and Poland (6.4%) but the gap is actually widening, by 2.3% between 2008 and 2013. The BPW stress that this discrepancy not only affects the economic independence of women but increases the risk of child poverty and reduces the size of pensions which are based on wage levels. However 92% of Estonians support the principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ so what is at the root of the problem? BPW list the familiar ‘job segregation’, where women workers are concentrated in low-paying sectors such as caring and cleaning, as well as the ‘glass ceiling’ which prevents them becoming executives,  the detrimental effect of career breaks tor maternity leave etc. and the higher numbers of women in fixed-term, part-time and temporary employment.

EstoniaEPD
A banner from the Equal Pay Day web site

 




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