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21. 03. 12. - 15:57

FlyNiki employees want works committee

Employees of Austria’s leading low-cost carrier plan to found a works council.

Pilots, cabin crew and ground personnel of FlyNiki confirmed yesterday (Tues) that first arrangements for the creation of a works committee had already been made. The organisation will be unveiled on 1 May, according to business newspapers. It is understood that FlyNiki employees interested in running for leading positions in the new institution prefer to remain anonymous until the envisaged launch date over fears of being laid off.

Hartmut Mehdorn, who heads FlyNiki’s mother company Air Berlin, stressed that his firm had nothing against the establishment of works councils. The former Deutsche Bahn (DB) chief – who has headed Air Berlin since 2011 – warned that FlyNiki would be affected by Air Berlin’s upcoming cost-cutting procedures too. "Everyone in this company will have to tighten their belts," Mehdorn said.

Air Berlin made a loss of 272 million Euros last year. The budget carrier – which has its headquarters in German capital Berlin – most recently achieved a profit in 2007. Mehdorn intends to reduce administrative expenses to lower the losses and debts. He said Air Berlin would be back in the black in 2013. The ex-DB chief said the airline’s fleet would decrease as well as part of the upcoming restructure.

Air Berlin has more than 9,000 employees while the workforce level of FlyNiki – which was taken over in full by its German partner last year – ranges around 800. Most of the staff of FlyNiki – which was founded by ex-Formula One (F1) pilot Niki Lauda in 2003 – are working under special contracts after having been hired via a personnel leasing agency.

Now pilots, cabin staff and ground personnel decided to team up to establish two works councils – one for FlyNiki’s regular employees, another one for its contract workers. The project might be endorsed by Austrian unionists who recently started a debate about the various unjustified disadvantages of temporary workers.

More and more Austrian companies assign such personnel to reduce their overall workforce level without significant complications in crisis times. Laying off regular employees is currently connected with higher costs and legal risks while personnel leasing firms guarantee smooth procedures if their business partners want to get rid again of the men and women they hired with their assistance.

The Austrian government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and People’s Party (ÖVP) plans to fine enterprises of all kind 110 Euros for each staff dismissal. The charge could be introduced later this year. The coalition decided to allow businesses to end seasonal workers’ contracts without being charged this way in the future after tourism industry officials warned from negative effects of such a change of laws they branded nonsensical and harmful.

Now personnel leasing agencies are trying to avoid being affected by the planned regulation. The fee is part of the SPÖ-ÖVP administration’s 27.5-billion-Euro budget consolidation package which was presented last month. SPÖ Labour Minister Hundstorfer defended the planned creation of the 110-Euro charge. Most detailed measures of the austerity pact will come into effect later this year while other aspects of the package – which consists of tax increases and spending reductions – will be felt only in a few years’ time.

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