Employees forced to commit to tough agreements
Existing agreements and employee benefits disappeared when SAS was forced to find savings of SEK 3 billion (€350 million) to meet its cost-slashing efficiency improvement plan. The regional airline Widerøe and SAS Ground Handling are being ejected out of the company. But the most savage savings are undoubtedly in jobs, as SAS says goodbye to 6000 employees. The administration is moving in its entirety to Sweden with only the essential local features left behind in Norway and Denmark. Around 800 administrative jobs in the three countries will disappear, with the rest of the downsizing achieved through outsourcing, streamlining and disposals.
The leader of the Norwegian SAS pilots’ union contract NSF, Jens Lippestad, calls the cost-cutting “cruel” and the negotiations very unusual. “Our intention has been to save jobs, for us and for everyone at SAS. We’ve done what we can to make that happen. We refused to accept SAS management’s diktat. We fought for real negotiations. It’s not the most beautiful thing that’s happened in Scandinavian working life. The pilots will be 30% cheaper because we will earn less and work more.”
Swedish pilot union leader Robert Gustafsson says pilots have given up a monthly salary per year. “In principle, we met SAS’s demands in all areas – salary, pensions and working conditions,” he tells the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
Collective agreements and conditions of employment were altered in Sunday’s hard bargaining. There will be no negotiations for increased wages for the next two years. Salary loss particularly affects the highest paid pilots. However, yesterday SAS said its board of directors had also agreed to a 30% pay cut.
Employee savings schemes have been changed, the retirement age raised from 60 to 65 years. Pension cuts mean that annual pension costs for SAS will drop by about 60%.
[photo courtesy SAS]