Bluebird Nordic and Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise ignore collective labour agreements and court rulings
Recently, a ruling was handed down in the Icelandic Labour Court where Bluebird Nordic's lay-offs of all FÍA pilots were ruled illegal. It should be noted that just prior to the lay-offs, the company had hired a corresponding number of bogus self-employed pilots through an foreign employment agency.
FÍA challenges Bluebird and the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA) to abide by the current Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) and the ruling of the Labour Court.
The ruling states clearly that when a Collective Labour Agreement expires, its provisions apply until a new agreement is reached, and CLA negotiations were well under way when the lay-offs occurred.
According to provisions of the CLA, FÍA members have priority over 11 full-time positions, as Bluebird pilots. This provision was confirmed by the Labour Court.
Despite the ruling of the Labour Court and the current CLA, both SA and Bluebird Nordic seem to think that they don’t need to comply with the ruling in question and the wage CLA.
Rule of law is a fundamental component of Icelandic society, and we must insist that Icelandic companies respect both CLAs and court rulings. This attempt to undermine the rules of our labour market, is unacceptable.
It is a serious violation of the constitutionally protected rights of trade unions and the rights of Icelandic workers who work according to a collective labour agreement.
We call for the involvement of the relevant supervisory bodies, the relevant authorities, and the Minister, in this matter, to ensure that Bluebird Nordic and the Confederation of Icelandic Employers comply with Icelandic law and with court rulings.
FÍA calls for a broad consensus of the country's trade unions against the Confederation of Icelandic Employers' dangerous attack on the Icelandic labour market.
FÍA 75 years old - Save the date!
Dear FÍA member, on Thursday 9. December FÍA will celebrate it’s 75th. birthday.
The event will be held at Gamla Bíó on Ingólfsstræti.
E-invite will be sent out at a later time. Save the date!
Newsletter is out!
The FÍA newsletter is now out for September, as always both in English and Icelandic.
Please note that on page 2 you will find the Table of Contents with direct links to the articles in English - otherwise the English version starts on page 16!
Among subjects are:
- Bluebird's lay-offs confirmed as illegal by Labour Court
- Coast Guard Pilots still without contract - seniority lists at risk
- EFÍA's Alternative Foreign Investments
- Reykjavík Flight Safety Symposium - held this Friday!
- Safety issues - article by Ingvar Tryggvason
- New Cabin in Húsafell
- Fatigue Reporting
Pilots' lay-offs ruled illegal: FÍA wins Labour Court case against Bluebird Nordic and SA
Today, the Icelandic Labor court issued a ruling in the case of the Icelandic Airline Pilots' Association (FÍA) against the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) on behalf of Bluebird Nordic. The ruling confirmed that it was illegal of Bluebird to lay-off pilots working according to a CLA with FÍA members while hiring bogus self-employed pilots to replace them. This is an important precedent as the victory is not only important for pilots but for all unions in the country.
"The facts of the case are that a rapidly growing Icelandic airline laid off all its pilot who were union members, only weeks after having hired a comparable number of bogus self-employed contractors, ready to replace the union pilots. This was done despite the fact that the Collective Labor Agreement between the parties contained a clear provision on the priority rights of FÍA members to work for Bláfugl, which the court confirmed was still valid, just as the Court of Appeal had previously ruled," says Jón Þór Þorvaldsson, FÍA president.
"This is an important victory for unions, regulators and the government, who are all fighting against bogus self-employment."
AGM of the FÍA Pension Fund 2021
The Annual General Meeting of the FÍA Pension Fund (EFÍA) will be held on Thursday, 3 June 2021 at 13:00 at the FÍA headquarters in Hlíðasmári 8, Kópavogur.
All fund members have the right to attend the meeting, participate in discussions, and to submit proposals.
Further information about the meeting can be found here.
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.
The FÍA newsletter for the month of April is now out, featuring articles on e.g. safety issues, the pension fund investments, ITS Iceland, flight crew vaccinations, and work on changes to pilot training.
The English half of the newsletter begins on page 16 - click here to read!
New CLA with Norlandair approved
A new Collective Labour Agreement was signed by FÍA and Norlandair at the Icelandic Aviation Museum in Akureyri on 16. March, 2021. The agreement was then approved by all pilots through e-voting that concluded on Monday, 22. March.
„On behalf of FÍA‘s negotiating committee I congratulate all Norlandair pilots on the new CLA, and to the representatives of the company I send thanks for the efficient collaboration. A new CLA marks a new beginning, and I hope that it will prove the basis to empower the development of Norlandair and its market position,“ said Högni B. Ómarsson, head of FÍA‘s negotiation committee with Norlandair. „I hope we will soon receive news that the pilots who lost their jobs last year due to the recession will be rehired. Let‘s look with bright eyes ahead, and not dwell on the difficult times that have passed. We should celebrate these results.“
FÍA congratulates the Norlandair pilots on their new CLA.
Happy faces at the signing of the new CLA.
From left: Jón Karl Ólafsson, Arnar Friðriksson, Þorvaldur Lúðvík Sigurjónsson, Davíð Smári Jóhannsson, Halla Kristjánsdóttir, Högni B. Ómarsson. The picture is missing Örnólfur Jónsson.
Bluebird Nordic and Social Dumping
Important judicial precedent
In February, the UK‘s Supreme Court ruled that Uber drivers must be treated as workers and not self-employed. The decision could mean that thousands of Uber drivers are entitled to minimum wage according to UK CLA‘s, as well as enjoying the rights and privileges they entail such as holiday and sick pay.
The Supreme Court ruled that Uber has behaved like an employer by setting rates, assigning rides, requiring drivers to follow certain routes and using a rating system to discipline them. Drivers are workers, according to the Court, because of Uber‘s level of control over them. This sounds very familiar to the thousands of supposedly „self-employed“ pilots in Europe
In a recent article from ECA, it states that the national labour and aviation authorities typically struggle to identify bogus self-employment, which has allowed the phenomenon of bogus self-employment to flourish in the past decade.
The article calls for authorities to take a firm stand so that pilots cannot be considered self-employed any more than Uber drivers are. FÍA agrees with ECA‘s point of view and encourages the Icelandic authorities to take a stand in these matters as regards bogus self-employment for pilots in Iceland.
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.
Board of FÍA 2021-2022
A new Board of the Icelandic Airline Pilots' Association (FÍA) took office following the Annual General Meeting on 18. February, 2021. No e-voting was held this year as the Board was self-elected.
The Board is as follows:
Jón Þór Þorvaldsson, ICE (2022)
Guðmundur Már Þorvarðarson, ICE (2023)
Högni Björn Ómarsson, ICE (2022)
Steindór Ingi Hall, ICE (2022)
Sara Hlín Sigurðarsdóttir, ICE (2022)
Hólmar Logi Sigmundsson, LHG (2023)
Gunnar Björn Bjarnason, AIC (2022)
Haraldur Helgi Óskarsson, AAI (2023)
G. Birnir Ásgeirsson, AAI (2023)