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Norwegian Air Pilots Reject Arbitration Bid

Friday, March, 20, 2015

On strike for several weeks, Norwegian Air pilots have responded to the airline’s suggestion of voluntary arbitration to resolve their contract dispute with a resounding negative. However, the unions stated that standard negotiations will continue as long as Norwegian Air is willing to participate in good faith, despite a recent strike staged by the pilots.


Currently, the pilots have a collective bargaining agreement with the local Norway subsidiary of the airline. The coalition of unions representing 700 pilots insist on having a deal with the parent airline instead, which the pilots believe will improve their job security and other aspects of their employment. Norwegian Airlines has rejected this demand.


The unions rejected the arbitration suggestion, stating that because the core dispute is not about compensation or wages, arbitration is unlikely to work. After ten days of negotiations, no progress on the conflict could be announced. The pilots’ unions called a general strike last week, canceling all domestic flights in Norway and Sweden as well as some flights in Denmark.


Norwegian Air prefers to have the unions negotiate with its subsidiaries to both reflect local conditions and wages as well as to keep the unions from holding too much power in contract talks, as negotiating directly with the parent airline would allow them to set standards nationally, triggering further negotiations until parity had been achieved. The airline is unlikely to voluntarily agree to this demand, leaving open the possibility of further job actions going forward.