10. may 2021

Appeal Court confirms legitimacy of FÍA actions

The strike actions of the Icelandic Airline Pilots' Association (FÍA) against Bluebird Nordic, which began in February 2021, were ruled legitimate by the Landsréttur Appeal Court last Friday. Originally, Bluebird had requested a ban on the strike actions from the District Commissioner, and when this was denied they appealed to the District Court. When the Court confirmed the Commissioners ruling, the case was appealed to the Landsréttur, only to have it yet again confirmed that the strike actions were legal.

The ruling of the Appeal Court reaffirmed once again one of the main principles in Icelandic labor law that when a wage agreement expires or is terminated, the rights and obligations of the parties continue in accordance with an earlier agreement while there is still no agreement, and no strike has taken place. Therefore, the priority right provisions for FÍA members were still valid when Bluebird Nordic hired 10 pilots as bogus self-employed contractors in November and fired the corresponding number of FÍA pilots in the following month.

The Appeal Court also confirmed that a legal strike, announced by a trade union, binds all workers in the profession in question, as well as those outside the trade union. In other words, the pilots who flew for Bluebird during the strike were strike-breakers and the FIA's actions to defend the strike were perfectly legal.

Landsréttur also held that Bluebird Nordic had to bear the brunt of not disclosing the terms and conditions of employment of the pilots it to be "self-employed contractors". This once again provides clear evidence that Bluebird is carrying out pseudo-contracting that they are trying to keep out of the light of day.

As specified earlier, Landsréttur upheld the ruling of the district commissioner and later the district court and furthermore requires Bluebird Nordic also to pay FÍA ISK 440,000 in appeal costs.

It should also be noted that the main proceedings in the Labour Court case, concerning the legality of the FÍA pilots’ dismissals, took place in April and a ruling is expected shortly.

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06. mar 2021

FÍA wins District Court Ruling

Strikes ruled legal

  • The Icelandic District Court has confirmed the decision of the District Commissioner of the Capital area that FÍA‘s strike actions were legal, and that they would not be subject to an injunction.
  • The Court also confirms there is doubt as to the legitimacy of the layoffs of the FÍA pilots.
  • The ruling gives indications that contract pilots are in fact wage earners.
  • FÍA‘s CLA with Bluebird is still valid according to the Court

A ruling was issued on Friday, 5. March 2021, in the District Courts regarding the case that Bluebird Nordic filed against Icelandic Airline Pilots‘ Association (FIA), where Bluebird requested an injunction on the strike actions of the FÍA pilots that are working according to a collective labour agreement (CLA). The District Commissioner had earlier refused such an injunction request, but Bluebird appealed that decision to the District Courts.

However, the District Court confirmed the decision of the District Commissioner in regard to the legality of the strike actions, stating that nothing implied that the strike hadn‘t been executed according to law. This means that FÍA is in full right when they stand guard on the legally noticed strike, making sure that the work of those on strike isn‘t performed by others.

Court doubts legitimacy of layoffs

The results of the District Court further supports FÍA‘s arguments in its fight against illegal social dumping and bogus self-employment of Bluebird contractors. FÍA filed a case in the Icelandic Labour Court last week regarding the illegal layoffs of CLA contracted Bluebird pilots.

It is clear, from the ruling, that the court believes there is doubt about the legitimacy of the layoffs of the FÍA pilots. It is mentioned by the Court that during the CLA negotiations between Bluebird and FÍA, Bluebird had hired 10 pilots as contractors, and a few weeks later laid off ten directly employed FÍA union pilots: “In view of article 01-3 of the former CLA, which is still in effect, and where it states that the recruitment or leasing of pilots to the claimant should not in any way delay the promotions and other career developments of permanent employees, who are union members of the defendant, and should not lead to them being dismissed, the court finds there is doubt as to the legitimacy of the aforementioned resignations.“ It is FÍA‘s belief that Bluebird has hired in bogus self-employment contractors in order to lay off pilots who are union members and work according to a CLA.

The court also gives indications to the fact that the pilots hired in as contractors are actually wage earners, i.e. bogus self-employment contractors, but they could not say for certain as Bluebird did not put forth any evidence supporting that they were in fact contractors.

The Court stated that Bluebird had neither proved nor put forth a good argument that FÍA‘s labour actions have violated its legal rights. Also, the court ruled that Bluebird is to pay for the cost of the case, evaluated at ISK 620.000.

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04. feb 2021

Bluebird Nordic strike

Iceland‘s battle against social dumping

On February 1st 2021, union pilots of the cargo airline Bluebird Nordic (BBN) began their legally proposed strike action. A month earlier, on December 30th, the airline laid-off all pilots working under a Collective Labour Agreement, 11 in total, announcing that from now on Bluebird would only use self-employed pilots. 

Bluebird Nordic, owned by Cypress based Avia Solutions Group, has for some time contracted bogus self-employed pilots through a broker agency that is not registered in Iceland and therefore illegal. To be clear, pilots working for airlines do not meet any of the legal requirements for contracting and therefore can't be considered contractors. Hence, such precarious form of employment is atypical, and cannot be considered anything else than bogus self-employment.

Before the letters of dismissals were sent, Bluebird Nordic had actively participated in negotiations with the Icelandic Airline Pilots‘ Association (FÍA) so the lay-offs came as a great surprise to the pilots: Laying off all union members during negotiations on terms and conditions is in clear violation of Article 4 of the Icelandic legislation on Trade Unions and Industrial Disputes (No. 80/1938) as well as the basic constitutional right of freedom of association. 

The Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) between FÍA and Bluebird Nordic is still valid, and the pilots that were laid-off are still working in accordance to it. BBN has stated that the CLA is no longer valid, which FIA rejects referring to ongoing negotiations and scheduled meetings with the State Mediator. The current CLA states very specifically that hiring of pilots outside of the Icelandic Airline Pilots‘ Association may not lead to lay-offs of FÍA members within Bluebird. 

Global Compact „participant“ supports the resignations

To make matters even worse for the Icelandic labour market, Bluebird‘s actions were supported by the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise– itself a vocal participant of UN‘s Global Compact: A compact that stresses the importance of freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. 

The Confederation‘s support of Bluebird runs counter to their official positions of supporting a healthy labour market, and sets a very negative precedent.

Strike began with violations

Bluebird Nordic‘s reactions to the strike were swift: They removed all FÍA pilots off their flights from the time that the strike was to begin, replacing them with contractors which is a clear strike violation. 

FÍA is thankful for the great show of support during this ongoing dispute and fight against social dumping – not only from fellow unions within aviation in Iceland and the The Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASI), but also from abroad, such as the Nordic Transport Worker‘s Federation, the International Transport Worker‘s Federation, IFALPA, and the Danish Flight Personnel Union.

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