New agreement for Cyprus Airways pilots

In mid September 2009, agreement was reached on renewing the collective agreement for pilots employed by Cyprus Airways. In relation to pay, the increases granted are in keeping with the agreements reached between the company and other trade unions active in the civil aviation sector. Regarding non-pay elements, a principled agreement has been reached on issues over which the ongoing dispute between management and pilots led to a bargaining deadlock.

On 15 September 2009, Cyprus Airways management and employees accepted the mediation proposal of the Industrial Relations Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance (Υπουργείου Εργασίας και Κοινωνικών Ασφαλίσεων, MLSI) and reached agreement on the renewal of the collective agreement for Cyprus Airways pilots.

The memorandum of agreement, which covers all pilots and co-pilots employed at Cyprus Airways, is valid for two years from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2010. The Chair of Cyprus Airways Public Ltd (Κυπριακές Αερογραμμές, KA), Kikis Lazaridis, signed the agreement on behalf of employers and the President of the Pancyprian Airline Pilots’ Union (Παγκύπρια Συντεχνία Πιλότων, PASYPI), Charalambos Tapas, signed on behalf of employees.

Pay issues

As regards the pay-related part of the agreement, the increases agreed for pilots represent an overall increase of about 6% on basic pay as at 31 December 2008, based also on the anticipated restructuring scheme. The pay increases will be granted as follows:

  • 1% from 1 January 2009;
  • 1% from 1 September 2009;
  • 2% from 1 April 2010;
  • 2% from 1 September 2010.

The pay increases granted for the two-year period 2009–2010 match those increases granted to all workers at KA – that is, those agreed between the company and the other trade unions active in the civil aviation industry (see also the Cypriot contribution to the EIRO representativeness study on the European social partner organisations in the civil aviation industry). It should be noted that, since 2004, when the first restructuring scheme for KA was submitted (CY0410102F, CY0501103F), the company and the pilots have not been able to reach an agreement, resulting in a one-sided implementation of terms and conditions of employment for this occupational category and subsequent conflict between the two sides.

Non-pay issues

Regarding non-pay elements, the two most important provisions of the agreement involve regulation of working time on scheduled flights and the abolition of the right to accumulate annual leave days.

Working time provisions

As far as the regulation of working time is concerned, specific provision is made for scheduled flights (roster flying duty period) not to exceed a maximum of 13 hours. Moreover, in cases where an emergency arises on a duty day, it will be possible to carry out flights beyond 13 hours in the context foreseen by the relevant rules and regulations. However, in no case shall the number of scheduled flights above 12 hours or their performance during the day vary without justification. For any variations in this regard, the company is committed to not acting one-sidedly but rather under agreement between the company and the employees, on the basis of the Industrial Relations Code. In the context of this regulation, from 1 January 2009 a special subsistence allowance will be paid to pilots, as follows:

  • pilots – €2.20 an hour;
  • senior co-pilots – €1.60 an hour;
  • co-pilots – €1.40 an hour.

When the newly concluded agreement expires on 31 December 2010, the implementation of the above-described regulation will be possible only after the agreement between the two sides is renewed.

Annual leave provisions

As regards abolishing the right to accumulate annual leave days, the new agreement expressly stipulates that in the future annual leave will be granted in accordance with the terms of the collective agreement, and that there will be no right to accumulate leave, unless leave has been accumulated for which the company is responsible. With regard to the terms either for payment or compensation for leave accumulated before 31 December 2008, the two sides have committed to taking part in discussions in order to reach a new agreement within four months, including additional options for workers. However, they have made it clear that there will be no possibility for accumulated leave to be granted as pre-retirement leave.

Importance of agreement

In statements made during the signing ceremony on 15 September, the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Sotiroula Charalambous, and the Chair of KA, Mr Lazaridis, underlined the need for industrial peace, particularly in times of financial crisis. In the opinion of the President of PASYPI, Mr Tapas, the new agreement marks the end of a climate of confrontation and negativity that has long plagued the relations between the pilots and management of Cyprus Airways. In this context, Article 7 of the new agreement makes provision for the dialogue to continue so that all unsettled disputes between the two sides can be resolved before 31 December 2010. Moreover, Article 7 expressly stipulates that in all cases the provisions of the Industrial Relations Code must be observed, but without the possibility of taking any measures or threatening to take measures such as strikes.

Evangelia Soumeli, Cyprus Labour Institute (INEK/PEO)

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