Croatia Airlines Pilots to Strike at Beginning of Tourist Season?

Lauren Simmonds

Rather unwelcome news for most, but will it happen?

Concerningly, Croatia Airlines pilots have warned that employees in various sectors of the national carrier are leaving, that there were not enough people in engineering, and owing to that dire fact, the company was forced to cancel flights and lease airplanes from other air carriers. Due to the continued negativity, pilots, stewards/stewardesses and aeronautical engineers employed by Croatia Airlines could end up going ahead with a strike at the very beginning of the tourist season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of May, 2018, unions are moving to a conciliation agreement with the government in connection with a collective agreement/contract which expired seventeen months ago, it is expected that this conciliation will fail to succeed, and the conditions for going ahead with the proposed strike will arise, according to a report from Večernji list, regarding the Croatian Trade Union of Pilots (HSSP).

A potential strike would be organised, as has been written by ORCA (Workers Organisation of Croatia Airlines) who had initially announced a strike back in August of last year, an idea which was then thrown in the proverbial bin following a meeting with Minister Oleg Butković. Aside from their collective bargaining, unions have stated their general dissatisfaction with the overall running of Croatia Airlines, as well as with irritating government delays in choosing a new administration. HSSP issued a new letter yesterday, following letters originally sent out in both January and April this year, in them, they state that the situation in the company is only getting worse. There has also been a statement saying that a series of inaccurate and unconfirmed information about the company has been published.

Aside from pilots issuing warnings via their letters that Croatia Airlines employees are stepping down from the company from various positions and that cancellations have followed, in their new letter, the pilots have stated that the maintenance of a Croatia Airlines aircraft should have been completed by the end of March, as is the norm every year, but this year, it won’t be finished even after an entire 45 days following that deadline. The aircraft are late, they say, because of general poor planning and a lack of licensed mechanics. The letter also disclosed that from March the 23rd to April the 3rd, Croatia Airlines had to rent as many as thirteen aircraft from three Eastern European air companies.

They also stated that from April the 12th to the 18th, Croatia Airlines cancelled as many as eighteen flights, and from the 8th to the 17th of May, more will follow, and this already uncomfortable number will reach an alarming 21. The pilots say that 68 aeronautical engineers have left the company since 2013, having gone abroad since for more favourable work positions, and that, when compared to back in 2012, there are 44 pilots less who are employed for an indefinite period of time. In Croatia Airlines’ administration, led by temporary director Jasmin Bajić, they claim that the HSSP’s public appearances are still very much tied to the election of a new company management.

The management states that, as part of a standard airplane maintenance program, in addition to communication with the aircraft manufacturer, the need for additional work was identified and that this was the only reason for extending the maintenance deadlines.

They also argued that from January to April, Croatia Airlines flights were operated by seven different carriers with nine aircraft, totalling 89 Croatia Airlines flights. The national carrier, they claim, has a sufficient number of pilot crews and engineers/mechanics, and that the company hasn’t recorded a massive departure of workers. They argue that in December last year, trade unions didn’t accept the bidding offer for talks, and that the current collective bargaining negotiations are in the process of being ended.


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