UPDATE: SWISS pilots postpone strike
The strike originally planned for October 17th will not take place, but if the talks scheduled between the pilots’ union and the CEO of Switzerland's national airline are not fruitful, the pilots are still determined to walk out.
On Sunday, 95.6 percent of union members voted to postpone the strike until the meeting with the SWISS head, Dieter Vranckx, on October 23rd and 24th.
“We want a solution at the negotiating table. However, should the CEO fail to take advantage of this opportunity, we are prepared to enforce the legitimate interests of our members with an industrial action”, said Clemens Kopetz, president of the pilots' union Aeropers.
The union. which has been negotiating salary increases and improved working conditions with SWISS for months, has rejected the carrier’s latest collective labour agreement (CLA) and is threatening to go on strike — unless an agreement is reached between the two parties.
The (CLA) is a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.
“Since April 1st, 2022, SWISS pilots have been flying without a valid collective employment contract”, Aeropers said in a statement.
“The working conditions of SWISS pilots do not reflect social reality and must be adjusted," Kopetz pointed out.
To break the stalemate, the airline proposed mediation to the Aeropers pilots’, saying it “is convinced that a joint solution can still be found in the spirit of Swiss compromise, particularly since both parties continue to assert their openness to further negotiations. A joint solution of this kind would provide stability for SWISS’ pilots, the company and its customers".
The union replied, however, that the arbitration would take too long and “does not bring us any closer to a new CLA”.
It added that it prefers that talks between the two continue “in a small group of managers in order to bring the negotiation process, which was far too long and unproductive for both sides, to a successful conclusion in a timely manner”.
If the strike does take place, hundreds of flights and thousands of passengers would be impacted.
Contacted by The Local on Friday morning, both sides said they are still hoping to avoid the strike.
"Negotiations between SWISS and Aeropers are still ongoing and further talks are already scheduled". said Karin Montani, spokesperson for the airline. "In case of a comprehensive disruption of our flight operations, we inform our customers and the public timely via our various channels".
As for Aeropers, spokesperon Roman Kälin noted that "our members are in the process of voting on whether a strike is to be considered or not. The polls are open until Sunday. On Monday, we will make a public statement with the final results".
"At this point, we can’t give any more details on a possible strike and its ramifications", he added.