Irregularities found in the hiring process of Spain-based pilots operating for Norwegian

The Spanish Airline Pilots’ Association (SEPLA) has filed a complaint with the Spanish Labour Inspectorate against OSM, the subcontractor of Norwegian Air Shuttle, for violating the Spanish Social Security Legislation.

SEPLA has reported the subcontractor of Norwegian Air Shuttle, OSM Aviation Spain (“OSM”) to the Spanish Authorities for not complying with Spanish social security legislation. The Oslo-based airline Norwegian Air Shuttle (“NAS”), and its Spanish resource company Norwegian Air Resources Spain (“NAR ES”), have outsourced their crewing needs to OSM which handles airline pilots and flight attendants on their behalf in Spain.

In late 2014, OSM Aviation was unilaterally introduced as the new pilot supplier for Norwegian Air Shuttle in Spain and started to emit new pilot employment contracts. These contracts were not negotiated with SEPLA in any form, bearing in mind that SEPLA represents over 80% of Norwegian´s pilots in Spain. In order to force pilots into signing the new contracts, the company introduced aggressive tactics by establishing a deadline at short notice. Furthermore, pilots received written threats of contract terminations if they chose not to comply with the imposed deadline. In this context OSM has also failed in its obligation to provide the pilots of Norwegian with a social security number. According to Spanish labour law, the social security number must be requested by the employer.

Aside from the deadline and open threats, the new contracts contained various mistakes with potential legal implications if signed by the pilots. These events demonstrated the lack of professionalism of Norwegian´s subcontractor OSM. Therefore, SEPLA had no other choice but to report OSM to the competent authorities. By doing so SEPLA followed the path of the Spanish cabin crew union USO (Union SindicalObrera). USO already filed several complaints with the Spanish Labour Inspectorate in relation to Norwegian and their other cabin crew supplier in Spain, Adecco.

The American Airline Pilot Association (ALPA) is also addressing potential employment and labour related issues concerning Norwegian Air Shuttle´s Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI). Dublin-based NAI is planning to greatly expand Norwegian´s operations into Europe and other international markets, including the United States. NAI is planning to operate not only Boeing 787 Dreamliners, but also Boeing 737s.

SEPLA considers the corporate behaviour of Norwegian´s subcontractor OSM as unacceptable and counterproductive for mutual industrial relations. Additionally, by threatening the pilot corps of Norwegian in Spain with deadlines and contract terminations, OSM creates significant levels of stress amongst the pilots and thereby potentially affecting flight operations. The majority of newly hired pilots came from Ryanair and only joined Norwegian during the course of 2014, hoping to find a more dialogue-oriented working environment. However, after having joined with enthusiasm and commitment, pilots are quickly losing faith and trust in their airline as they witness increased similarities with Ryanairlabour tactics.

SEPLA continues to urge Norwegian Air Shuttle, its resource company NAR ES together with the outsourced crew management company OSM, to start mutually constructive initiatives as early as 01. FEB. 2015. It is a proven fact that mutual respect and cooperation between pilots, their unions and airline management is beneficial for the long-term success of all parties involved.

By recognizing SEPLA to represent the majority of Norwegian pilots in Spain, the basis for mutual respect and cooperation can be established. SEPLA is confident that Norwegian Air Shuttle shares the same goal as it has already successfully engaged with pilot unions in Scandinavia. SEPLA is prepared to replicate a similar and mutually constructive relationship in Spain.