Norwegian Air strike called off

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UPDATED: Norwegian Air management and flight attendants announced on Monday morning they’d reached an agreement on wage negotiations overnight, and called off further strike action. The threat of an expanded strike had caused ticket sales to plummet, forcing Norwegian to cancel 17 flights out of Oslo on Monday and warn that more disruptions were likely.

Norwegian is hoping for a brighter year after ongoing issues with its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Delivery delays and technical problems with the planes cost Norwegian millions in 2013, but the company still reported a profit for the seventh consecutive year. The financial reports comes the day after Norwegian received its Irish Aircraft Operating Certificate and PHOTO: David Peacock/Norwegian

Norwegian Air management and cabin crew reached an agreement over wage negotiations, ending strike action by workers. Unions had symbolically only taken one person off the job, but the threat of escalating strike action led ticket sales to plummet. The company cancelled 17 flights out of Oslo on Monday because of poor sales. PHOTO: David Peacock/Norwegian

Identical settlements were negotiated for cabin crew in both the company’s Danish and Norwegian staffing subsidiaries, reported state broadcaster NRK. “We have reached collective agreements that provide a common structure for Norway and Denmark, and which is approximately equal to the agreement we had these last four years,” said Hans-Erik Skjæggerud from the flight attendants’ union Parat. “The principle of the Norwegian jurisdiction, legislation and negotiating system has been important for us, this also continues now for our members at the base in Copenhagen.”

“None of the Norwegian bases will be closed down, the staff in Denmark secured fixed jobs in the company, and the agreement connected to (complimentary) personnel tickets will continue as before the strike,” he said. “It means that the company has withdrawn all the threats which were made in the much publicized text message which was sent out by the Norwegian management.”

The SMS, sent out at the beginning of May, warned that management would shut down all cabin crew bases except for at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport, Copenhagen-based crews would be outsourced to an employment agency, and staff would lose their ticket benefits for three years. Management described the text as “completely necessary” to inform staff of the board’s decisions, but it infuriated unions. They launched a symbolic strike and took one attendant off the job in Norway, but more significantly the strike action triggered a mediation deadline for negotiations with crews in Denmark. Widespread action was threatened if no agreement could be reached, and pilots warned they would strike in sympathy.

Unions also secured a co-determination right for crew members over their own pension scheme, but did not achieve indemnification for staff in the event the company “improperly modified” flight attendants’ pensions. Parat’s chief negotiator Turid Svendsen said the issue would now go before the legal system.

“Considering all our passengers, all staff and the companies that are affected, it’s good that we have reached an agreement, and can now turn our sights forward,” said Norwegian Air Chief Executive Bjørn Kjos.

Flights cancelled
The uncertainty over whether the strike would escalate had a devastating effect on Norwegian Air ticket sales, reported newspaper Aftenposten. Despite the settlement announcement, 17 flights out of Oslo were cancelled on Monday because of poor sales. The company warned there would likely be more cancellations throughout the week, primarily affecting flights within Norway.

“The strike threats that have hung over Norwegian for several weeks have led to a decline in total ticket bookings,” said Norwegian Air’s head of communications, Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen. “We therefore regretfully need to reduce the flight program this week, mainly for Norwegian domestic routes. The reduction in the flight program means that flights will be cancelled and passengers will be transferred to other flights.”

Most cancellations were set to affect Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim routes, from which numerous flights originate every day. Passengers whose flights were cancelled were transferred to another flight within a couple of hours of their planned departure time.

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate