After an intensive week of meetings and discussions, the Cabin Crew Committee of the ETF’s Civil Aviation Section announced its position on some vital issues related to the current and future state of European aviation.
There have been a number of proposals looking at the future of the Basic Regulation (216/2008) and EASA’s (European Aviation Safety Agency) remit. Shortly after the proposal for an amendment to this Regulation in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services (2013/0187 – COD), the European Commission and EASA launched two parallel consultations on the potential of further amendments to this Regulation.
The European Transport Worker’s Federation (ETF) is of the opinion that these consultations should not be used to withdraw the EASA part of the SES2+ initiative when the main issues with SES2+ (externalisation, application of market principles and forced structural separation between air navigation service providers and national authorities) remain untouched.
The future of EASA is of great concern for the ETF. It is essential to strengthen safety in Europe and regulation is one of the main tools to do this. ETF globally welcomes these consultations for the following reasons:
1. ETF is deeply concerned with the social and occupational health and safety dimension of the rules and regulations set by EASA. Social issues as well as occupational health and safety issues have a link with safety. ETF believes that having regulations putting targets on social and occupational health and safety issues linked to safety is a way to improve the safety level in Europe. The only option is to include the social and occupational health and safety dimension, together with safety and the ‘Just Culture’ principles, into the relevant regulations.
2. ETF believes that there is an urgent need to include ground handling activities into the EASA remit as they are part of the aviation safety chain. A total system approach to the aviation safety chain is vital currently that safety chain is incomplete while ground handling is not included. ETF also believes that having ground handling included will ensure a harmonised and level playing field in this activity across Member States.
3. ETF is pushing to eradicate the risks posed by the use of flags of convenience in the European aviation business. In order to achieve this, ETF is of the opinion that European aviation operators should not be able to choose which national supervisory authority will they be accountable to. Thus, the competent authority should always be the authority of the principle place of operations and not the one of the principle place of business or the one of the registered office.
Another issue is the strong demand for an improvement of the current rules on airspace security guidance in the aftermath of the tragic accident (MH17) during this summer. ETF cannot accept that innocent colleagues performing duty in the interest of passenger safety have lost their lives due to the fact that the aircraft was shot down when flying over a militarized zone. Therefore, we ask European decision-makers to take concrete steps in order to ensure that air transport remain the safest mode of transport and passengers and crew members always return to their families in a safe and secure way. Undoubtedly, the first step must be to have an international debate on airspace security in which all concerned institutions and stakeholders are involved. The EU should tackle this problem together with other international organisations, such as ICAO. The ETF also believes that flight operations in dangerous zones should be negotiated between airline management and staff representatives and individual crew members should have a choice to say NO. Indeed, workers must be able to refuse to perform a duty if it is recognized that it may endanger their personal safety or security. Sufficient information must be given to the workers and guidelines must be established. Therefore, the ETF encourages its members to include the respective clauses in their collective labour agreements.
Finally, based on the information received from several affiliates, the ETF Cabin Crew Committee (CCC) and the ETF Pilot Working Group (PWG) express their deep concerns about insufficient measures regarding the recent risk of Ebola pandemics. While some airlines take the issue seriously and put in place adequate measures to protect the health of their workers, other carriers prefer soft approach to this problem focusing only on airlines public image. For the ETF, this is unacceptable! Therefore, the ETF calls on the European institutions to put into action harmonized binding measures and standard procedures that would protect the aviation workers‘ health and help prevent the pandemics from spreading over Europe. In addition, at company level, it is paramount to include into CBAs protective measures dealing with pandemic risks. All solutions have to be negotiated between the workers’ representatives and the management. Flights to the affected zones should be performed on a voluntary basis, and sufficient information must be given to the concerned workers about the nature of the risk, probability, symptoms and protective measures. Adequate protective equipment must be made available to the workers; protective measures for workers and passengers must prevail over customer service.