Dark clouds over SAS after announcement of pilot strike

Following the breakdown of negotiations between pilot union Svensk Pilotförening (SPG), representing the pilots of SAS, a strike notice has been issued today to airline SAS (Scandinavian Airline System). The bad news follows the airline’s publication of terrible 2Q 2022 results and the refusal of the government to further invest in the airline. 

Negotiations between SPG and SAS have been conducted in various forms since November 2021, but both parties have not been able to reach an agreement and therefore SPG is now forced to give notice of the strike warning in Sweden, Norway and Denmark,” the pilot union wrote on social media.

In the negotiations, SAS has set requirements for deterioration in working conditions, with demands for wage reductions, increased working hours, reduced rest periods and abolished summer holidays. SPG has been willing to make far-reaching efficiencies and cost savings, but has made counter-demands that employment security be strengthened.

I am sorry to have to inform about this strike notice,” says Martin Lindgren, chairman of SPG. “We have done everything in our power to avoid ending up in this situation, but no longer have a choice. Despite the fact that SPG has clearly shown that we take SAS’s situation seriously, the management chooses to reject our proposals motivated by the fact that in the future they want to be able to move around the employees in various separate companies completely without job security.”

During the pandemic of recent years, SAS pilots have made a strong contribution to reducing costs for the company by participating in short-term work (redundancy / division of labor), refraining from salary increases and, not least, almost half of the pilots in the company have been laid off. During the same period, SAS has established internal mailbox companies with the aim of circumventing agreements on re-employment rights and job security for pilots in SAS.

SAS management has abused the pandemic to lay off nearly 600 SAS pilots and then offer “new” jobs through internal mailbox companies,” Martin Lindgren continues. “Under threat of also moving the rest of the jobs to these mailbox companies, SAS’s management has subsequently demanded sharp deterioration in conditions for the remaining pilots. A completely unacceptable action from a large employer in Scandinavia.

SAS recently announced that more than 4,000 flights will be canceled during the summer, partly due to a lack of pilots. Instead of investing in winning back customers, SAS’s management has chosen to focus on the newly established mailbox companies.”

“Hundreds of pilots have been recruited from outside to these companies, despite the fact that more than 400 SAS pilots with re-employment rights are still prepared to return to their previous positions. Had they chosen to re-employ, they would not have had the problems of lack of pilots.”

The parties are now returning to the next step in the collective agreement negotiations, where mediation awaits. “I really hope that through mediation we can agree and that we can avoid a strike affecting our travelers. The responsibility rests entirely with SAS’s management and board, which for over two years has placed all focus on getting rid of its employees and establishing staffing companies in order to create internal competition among SAS employees,” says Martin Lindgren.

It is completely unthinkable for unions anywhere in the world to find themselves in and means whether it is allowed to continue a milestone on the way to a phase-out of the Swedish model.”

Leave a Comment