Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Denmark: strike threatens SAS due to underpaid Chinese flight attendants

Copenhagen Post:

Chinese flight attendants hired by SAS to service routes to Asia have unleashed a tense labour disagreement between the airline's management and cabin personnel union. The union threatened to call for a strike if SAS refuses to hire the Chinese attendants under the same conditions as their Danish colleagues.

Union officials said that the airline has until 1 March to renegotiate the working conditions of the Chinese stewardesses.

SAS hired 35 Chinese employees to staff flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Copenhagen as a way to better serve Chinese-speaking passengers.

The airline saves significant amounts by hiring the employees. A Chinese employee, for example, costs the airline a total of DKK 10,000 (EUR 1300) per month, while a Danish employee costs DKK 50,000 (EUR 6600) per month with hotel stays, uniforms, and other expenses included.

The Chinese flight attendants were hired under individual contracts that circumvented negotiated agreements with the cabin personnel's labour union, according to the union's chairman, Verner Lundtoft Jensen.

'We don't have anything against colleagues from foreign countries,' said Jensen. 'The matter up for discussion is that if they are employed here, then the Danish labour agreement is what they should work under. And that means that you have the same wages and working conditions. We don't want to risk ending up with an 'A' and a 'B' team,' Jensen told national broadcaster DR.

Jensen noted that while the airline had hired the Chinese flight attendants, 40 Danish employees have been fired.

'We find it strange that an airline owned 50 percent by the state goes out and hires foreign workers to do the work that normally has been done by Danish cabin personnel. It's a straightforward export of Danish jobs to China,' he said.

SAS strike threat over Chinese stewards

Chinese flight attendants should get same pay, says labour union

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