New offer on table as pilot strike talks stall

New offer on table as pilot strike talks stall
Norwegian communications director Anne-Sissel Skånvik. Photo: Terje Pedersen/NTB scanpix/TT
A new deal has been proposed after pilots' unions and Scandinavian budget airline Norwegian worked through the night to negotiate an end to a strike entering its 11th day on Tuesday morning, reported Norway's state broadcaster NRK.

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It was not known on Tuesday morning what the offer contained or whether it had been accepted by pilots' unions. Johan Bisgaard, Norwegian press officer, told news agency NTB: “We will call a press conference as soon as we have something to share.”

The development came as pilots on Monday rejected the airline's call for arbitration to end a strike that has affected tens of thousands of passengers across Scandinavia.

The two sides were keeping commentary in the media to a minimum on Monday night, but Norwegian communications director Anne-Sissel Skånvik said that negotiators felt they had hit a deadlock. 

“We struggle to see how we can get to a solution,” she told Norway’s TV2 channel.  

Earlier on Monday, it was reported that the two sides were close to a solution

But after a failure to find agreement on the remaining issues, the company angered unions by attempting to switch from two-way talks to a formal arbitration process. 

“We are still sitting in talks with the company, and this initiative could harm the negotiation progress,” Hans-Erik  Skjæggerud, leader of the Parat Union said, arguing that by talking of arbitration Norwegian was implying that it wrongly viewed the talks as primarily about wages. 

“The conflict cannot be solved through arbitration,” he said.  

Parat Union leader Hans-Erik Skjæggerud. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix / TT

The strike has affected at least 150,000 passengers since it began on Saturday February 28th, after three months of fruitless talks broke down. 

More than 700 pilots working for the company’s Norwegian Air Norway subsidiary have joined the strike, and the company has temporarily laid off some 800 cabin crew without pay. 

Skånvik described Parat’s rejection of the request for arbitration as “regrettable”. 

The pilots want better job security and standardized salary terms for all pilots employed by the various Scandinavian subsidiaries of Norwegian.

The company, which in 2014 suffered its first loss in eight years, is looking to reduce operating costs as well as pilots' benefits.

All flights within Norway and Sweden were set to remain cancelled on Tuesday, although flights between Scandinavian capitals, which have barely been operating since the strike began, appear to be running as usual.

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