• Sweden edition
 
Swedish union 'impotent' in Norwegian staff shuffle
Norwegian cabin literature. File photo: Ann Törnkvist/The Local

Swedish union 'impotent' in Norwegian staff shuffle

Published: 09 Jan 2014 10:09 GMT+01:00

Days before Christmas, Norwegian announced that 52 cabin crew in Sweden would be let go. They would continue working for Norwegian, but via staffing firm Proffice. 

"All Proffice employees are now scared, we are no longer employed by an airline. When they say jump, we have to say 'How high?'," a cabin crew member, who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Local.

"We are all pissed at the union and the fact that they own shares in the staffing firm makes us feel that they aren't listening to us. It's very frustrating; from year to year they are giving us worse conditions."

The cabin crew's union, entitled Unionen, is one of the ten biggest share holders in Proffice, the disgruntled employee noted. 

The latest twist, reported in local media over the festive season, was that the move to Proffice cut three days off a month for the former directly employed cabin staff, despite initial promises that all working conditions would remain unchanged. Twelve days off became nine. 

Such scenarios have been addressed in a question to the European Commission sent by Swedish Left Part MEP Mikael Gustafsson. 

"The Temporary Agency Work Directive (2008/104/EC) entered into force in 2008 and was based on the principle of equal treatment," he wrote in the official letter. "In other words, employees of temporary employment agencies should not have less favourable working conditions than employees in the user enterprise."

Gustafsson told The Local he found it regrettable that the EU had introduced a temporary workers directive at all, as staffing firms should be regulated on national not union level, but said the current problem was simply that companies based in Sweden were disregarding the 'equal treatment' clause. In other words, staffing companies should uphold domestic laws and standards.

The cabin crew member who spoke with The Local touched on the perceived precarity of being at the mercy of company that could simply ship jobs abroad. The employee summed up a lose-lose paradox: While furious that Unionen had not stopped the transfer of jobs to a third-party staffing company, the cabin crew member said the Swedish union's insistence that all airline staff be covered by its collective bargaining agreement jeopardized the existence of their jobs in the long-term - regardless of the EU temporary workers directive.

"Unionen is making this profession leave Sweden. They want everyone in Sweden to have the same collective agreement, but Norwegian is a European airline so our organization has a different structure," the employee told The Local. "Because our union won't let go of this thinking, our jobs are going to go abroad."

MEP Gustafsson is now awaiting a reply from the Commission. 

"It's a downward spiral. This kind of (staffing behaviour) forces even 'good' companies to behave badly in order just to compete and survive," Gustafsson told The Local.

 
 Click on the below image to find out how you can submit news stories and tips to The Local.
 
 
Representatives at Unionen, meanwhile, have spoken openly about their worries that Norwegian could endanger working conditions. And Rickard Gustaffsson, CEO of Scandinavian airline SAS, one of Norweigian's main competitors, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper last week that politicians should look into the organizational "grey zone" in which he believed Norwegian was operating. Outsourcing its staff has taken place not only in Stockholm, but also in Bangkok, London, and Malaga, SvD noted this week. 

While Norwegian has been widely covered in Nordic and international media as a business success story, with the purchase of new planes and the addition of several long-haul routes in recent months, they have not escaped criticism. Union representatives in the US added their voice to the fray on Thursday. 
 
Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), a Washington, DC-based labour organization, said Norwegian had already has a track record of leaving workers in the lurch in its quest for lower labour costs . The business model, which he noted was based on having planes on Ireland, staff in Thailand, and owners in Norway - should be criticized, he told the Norwegian news agency NTB.

"It's designed to do one simple thing. Shop the world for the cheapest possible work force," Wytkind said."And to come to the US and shove out employees." 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival
Robbie Williams will headline Sweden's biggest music festival in 2015. Photo: TT

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival

This week Robbie Williams was announced as the headline act at Bråvalla - one of the largest music events in Scandinavia. But the British star has proved a controversial choice for the three day festival in southern Sweden's Norrköpping, which takes place in June 2015. READ  

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'
The Swedish Trade Federation said that three times as many companies in Sweden were staging Black Friday deals in 2014 compared to last year. Photo: AP/The Canadian Press/Justin Tang

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'

More companies in Sweden are rolling out the imported American shopping phenomenon known as 'Black Friday' by slashing prices for post-Thanksgiving purchases. READ  

Skanska quits South America over corruption
File Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT

Skanska quits South America over corruption

Swedish engineering giant Skanska has decided to pull out of the South American market after being dragged into a corruption scandal involving the Brazilian oil major Petrobras. READ  

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election
Former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt exits the stage after the 2014 election loss. Photo: TT

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election

Sweden's Moderate Party slumped at the polls on election day as it lost the jobs, welfare and immigration debate, according to the party's post election analysis. READ  

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup
Chefs at work:Shutterstock

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup

Sweden claimed two gold and two silver medals at the culinary world cup in Luxembourg this week, which features over 100 teams from around the world competing for gastronomic greatness. READ  

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin
Traditional Swedish potato and fish casserole. Photo: Magnus Lundquist/Flickr

How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin

Feeling the need for some comfort food during the cold weather? The dish Swedes call Janssons frestelse is popular during the winter and is often found on the Christmas smorgasbord. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local... READ  

More rats creep into Sweden's cities
Rats like these are common in Stockholm. Photo: TT

More rats creep into Sweden's cities

Sweden is experiencing a rapid increase in its rat population according to the country's biggest pest control company, which says that the growing trend for outdoor food stalls is partly to blame. READ  

What's On in Sweden
What's On: November 27th - December 4th
A Christmas market in Skåne. Photo: Visit Skåne

What's On: November 27th - December 4th

Northern Sweden's Umeå is fighting the encroaching darkness with a bright pop festival, horses are trotting into town in Stockholm, Gothenburg is celebrating French culture and winter markets are popping up everywhere this week. READ  

'Tinder for jobs' app in discrimination row
Selfiejobs has launched in Stockholm. Photo: Selfiejobs

'Tinder for jobs' app in discrimination row

A smartphone app designed to match young job seekers with potential employers has gained more than ten thousand likes since it launched in Stockholm a week ago. The company is already planning to target other capitals, despite criticism that it promotes discrimination. READ  

'Wild west' taxi drivers face tough new rules
Taxis at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Photo: Claudio Brescani/TT

'Wild west' taxi drivers face tough new rules

Stockholm taxis have a reputation for being among the most expensive in the world, but new regulations designed to make costs more transparent have been agreed on by Stockholm's Traffic Committee. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Blog updates

25 November

Sexual Violence: It’s Still Time To Act (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"In 2013, a World Health Organisation report found that 35% of all women in the world..." READ »

 

26 November

Is Putin trying to buy up Europe’s nationalists? (Globally Local) »

" Photo: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP Political funding is a murky business at the best of times. If a party..." READ »

 
 
 
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

829
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options