Aviation | easyJet

easyJet pilots need more than words

Hi, we are the Union Section of easyJet in Spain, formed by Tomás Millet, Bernat Sifre, Víctor Díaz and Juan Casas (in the picture, from left to right)

We have been working in the Barcelona base since its opening in February 2016, exactly 3 years after the closure of the Madrid base, and coinciding with the legal period of time that allowed easyJet not to apply the Spanish Collective Labour Agreement that was signed in Madrid. Barcelona was opened with much worse terms and conditions than the previous ones in order to be more competitive. One year after that we saw the opening of the first seasonal base in easyJet: Palma. It was an experiment for the company, which was testing the model for future implementation in other bases around the network.

From the beginning we knew that we had to join SEPLA and create a Union Section that allowed us to defend our interests, improve our working conditions and solve our workmates problems.
Starting the Union Section and the Work’s Council was not an easy task, as none of us had experience with Union before, and the company did not make things easy. But thanks to SEPLA and its legal department, and after a lot of work, we could finally create these two organizations, which are key in order to preserve the pilots rights and give them protection against the company, which is never an easy thing, being easyJet such a big airline.
EasyJet currently operates in different countries with different contracts (8 different countries), and has currently got 3 different AOCs. All of this, together with the Brexit, has added complexity to the operation. The difference between the old and the new contracts is huge in terms of money. However, what could not be expected is that, apart from the economic differences there would be a huge difference in working conditions too: days off, pensions or sick pay for instance. All of this, together with some legal mistakes and the lack of investment in Human Resources and Specialists in Spanish law has produced a lot of mistakes and problems that have kept both Unions (pilots and cabin crew) very busy. One example is the need to revise our payslips due to the constant and repetitive mistakes.
On the other hand, we have initiated the negotiations in order to obtain a new and fair Collective Labour Agreement, in line with the current market and with the help of SEPLA and the ePG (easyJet Pilot Group), which is the body that brings all Union Representatives from different countries together.

During the summer we prepared the platform for the future Collective Labour Agreement, taking into account Spanish law and comparing our contract with the national market and other easyJet contracts around Europe. This platform was handed over to the company on the 26th of September of 2017. Today, 14th of February of 2018 and after months waiting, useless meetings and a lot of problems, and after many promises and apologies from the Company side, we have finally received a firm counteroffer which is well below our minimum expectations, showing that all this time has been lost in vain. We really did not expect to receive a reasonable offer, having seen the discussions we have had and the poor amount of work that they have put into this, but we were still hopeful. At least we were expecting them to be consistent with their continuous words of goodwill and their theoretical willingness to improve the current conditions, and with that, to fix the multiple problems – social and legal – that our contract is facing.

The reality is that after a huge amount of work put by “our team”, and after so many promises from the company side, we understood that no matter what the spirit, name, colour or professional quality of the company, they are here for the same reasons as any other business: they just want to present benefits to their investors without taking into account the most important thing: their employees. For them, employees are just numbers, statistics and small pieces of a big machine made in order to give economical benefits without taking into account the big social injustice which is happening at the moment amongst their pilots. Despite all of this, and despite the big disappointment caused by the strategy followed by the company’s negotiating team, the Union Section is going to keep working hard and negotiating in order to obtain a decent Collective Labour Agreement for all easyJet pilots in Spain.

IN THE PICTURE: The members of the Company Council, from left to right:Tomás Millet, Bernat Sifre, Víctor Díaz y Juan Casas.