This week, the Portugal-based cabin crew of one of Britain’s largest low-cost airlines, easyJet, rejected a pay deal.
This rejection has left staff with no other option but to instruct their union to take all appropriate measures, up to and including a strike.
The board of the National Union of Civil Aviation Flight Personnel (SNPVAC) is acting on behalf of those who feel that easyJet has not been acting in their financial interests since the industry has shown strong recovery in a post-pandemic world.
Describing the crew as having “a serious attitude who understanding of the company needs” and noting that when the airline was in trouble during the onset of the pandemic, it was the same crew who agreed to a three-year pay freeze to support the company in its efforts to stay afloat.
Describing the financial turbulence some of its members are experiencing by saying: “Due to the economic climate, easyJet workers have lost purchasing power over the last three years”, also noting that “the increase in the cost of living suffocates workers and jeopardizes the well-being and comfort of their families.”
easyJet: Portugal = Profits
Routes into Portugal are some of easyJet’s most profitable. And some of the discontents lies within the fact that employees in countries of routes less operationally beneficial to the business have still been awarded fair pay increases.
Describing the inequality, SNPVAC said: “In other countries and bases where the company does not present the same level of profitability presented in Portugal, colleagues obtained significant increases, and in these countries, agreements were negotiated during the summer, in order to protect the stability of workers’ hours”.
Compared to their European colleagues in Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom, there is fair reason to feel disgruntled. As all have received support from the company in times of need.
easyJet helped Spanish workers with a ‘minimum guarantee’ during Covid, whereas staff in Portugal continued to struggle without one. Staff also claim that they received lower ‘top ups’ compared to those who were based in Germany and The United Kingdom.
Dragging their heels
The union accused easyJet of taking a “posture of indifference in regards to problems of the class that have long been identified” which suggests that these tempestuous times only serve to promote a ‘climate of tension’ between colleagues and the company, whilst they debate over an agreeable solution
SNPVAC doesn’t believe these long and drawn-out pay discussions are acceptable, noting:
“The impasse reached in the ongoing negotiations is not tolerable, which could be prolonged indefinitely in time,” assuring that professionals in Portugal “want to see their loyalty and productivity recognized in the company.”
When asked for comment on the ongoing pay talks, an official source for easyJet said: “The carrier takes its responsibilities as an employer very seriously and employs all of its crew under local contracts, agreed with the unions and in accordance with the relevant local legislation, so it is not possible to compare the terms and conditions between different jurisdictions.”