Settlement hopes crashed amid yelling

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Last week it was the pilots in Norwegian Air who declared they’d had enough of Norwegian’s management. On Thursday afternoon it was Norwegian’s chief spokesperson who was literally yelling on national radio that “enough’s enough,” as hopes for a settlement crash landed.

A pensive Norwegian chief executive Bjørn Kjos, at a press conference on Wednesday. After some contact with striking pilots in the night, hopes crashed for any settlement soon. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

A pensive Norwegian chief executive Bjørn Kjos, at a press conference on Wednesday. After some contact with striking pilots in the night, hopes crashed for any settlement soon. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“We have to have a proposal (from the pilots) on the table that doesn’t demand that they take over management rights at the company,” an agitated communications director for Norwegian, Anne-Sissel Skånvik, declared on state broadcaster NRK after demanding that the pilots come to the table by 3pm. “Enough’s enough,” she declared repeatedly, live on the air. “This company is bleeding, and enough’s enough.”

Skånvik complained that after some initial contact during the night, there had been no progress in the increasingly bitter conflict between the airline and its pilots’ trade union federation Parat. She claimed Norwegian Air had “offered quite a lot, for quite a long time, but what we won’t compromise on is management rights at the company.” Her boss, Norwegian’s chief executive Bjørn Kjos, had complained on Wednesday that the pilots were effectively trying to take over commercial management of the company.

Skånvik claimed Norwegian was willing to discuss the other issues, like pay, pension and working conditions. “We expect Parat and NPU (Norwegian Pilot Union) to come to the table and give us an answer by 3pm,” she said.

Accused of making threats
That didn’t happen, with union officials responding that they were in an uproar over what they interpreted as threats from Skånvik. Despite the contact the two sides had during the night and expressed desires on both sides to “find a solution,” Parat leader Hans Erik Skjæggerud claimed the union hadn’t heard anything from Norwegian all day.

“It’s not serious on the part of Norwegian to go through the media like this after we sat five hours during the night,” Skjæggerud told NRK. He said the union flatly denied to meet Skånvik’s 3pm deadline.

“We can’t meet for negotiations with a threat,” he claimed, adding that Norwegian’s demands were “without precedent” in Norwegian labour history.

The situation thus remained deadlocked. State mediator Nils Dalseid was standing by in the meantime, saying there was “ongoing evaluation” over whether there were grounds for mediation to resume on a voluntary basis.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund