Danish unions in action against Icelandic-owned airline

The Danish flight crews’ union has decided to assist the country’s federation of labour unions in its action against Primera Air, which is a Danish charter airline under Icelandic ownership. The federation of unions aims to begin its campaign on 1st February.

Primera Air has refused to sign a binding wage contract with its flight crews and Politiken yesterday reported that the company, which flies in and out of Kastrup and Billund in Denmark, uses a subsidiary in Guernsey to hire its flight attendants and classifies them as contractors.

Thilde Waast, head of the flight crews’ union, Flybranchens Personaleunion, says that employment as contractors does not assure flight crews any rights — adding that there are also many signs that companies involved in such employment practices are often trying to escape paying proper tax.

Jón Karl Ólafsson, president of Primera Air, confirmed to RÚV that the company does employ its crews through a company registered in Guernsey; but denies that tax is the reason. On the other hand, he says that airline staff who do not live in Denmark clearly do not pay tax to the Danish state.

A lot of low fares airlines employ their flight crews on a freelance basis; including Ryanair, Norwegian and Iceland Express.

Politiken reports that it is increasingly common for those contractors to be employed through companies based in tax havens. But now the Danish Flybranchens Personaleunion, FPU, has declared war on this kind of employment; describing it as a form of social dumping. Its flight stewards and stewardesses do not enjoy any of the rights their jobs should include; do not receive pension contributions, do not have maternity-paternity leave rights, or paid sick leave.

The FPU is calling on unions across the entire travel and tourism industry to boycott Primera Air and to not charter any of its aeroplanes after the 1st February.