An Istanbul labour court yesterday made a ruling regarding the ongoing Turkish Airlines strike. The strike began on 15th May and Turkish Airlines management have since hired 700 new staff as well as making arrangements with it partners, SunExpress and Jet Airways India Ltd for the supply of additional staff, to make up for the 1,600 cabin crew on strike. The Hava-Is trade union claimed the hiring of additional staff undermined the efforts of striking employees.
The court have ruled that Turkish Airlines must not hire workers to replace striking staff, and whilst Turkish Airlines have the right to appeal, they may be forced to terminate job contracts for the new hires.
The strike began when workers demanded pay increases of 12% as well as better working conditions. Turkish Airlines management offered a 3% pay rise in the first half of the year, with another 3% in the second half, which was rejected by the union. The union also wants 305 staff to be reinstated following dismissal as part of industrial action in 2012, and a reduction in cabin crew flight hours. They claim that Turkish Airlines cabin crew work over 115 hours per month, compared to the industry standard of 80 hours.
The strike is potentially significant for Turkish Airlines, ranked Europe’s fourth-largest by passenger numbers, and sustained action could undermine expansion plans at one of the world’s fastest-growing carriers. Turkish Airlines is in the midst of a programme to double its fleet, buying up to 95 narrow-body jets from Boeing and 117 planes from Airbus. It has set a target of 46 million passengers for 2013, 7 million up from 2012.
Turkish Airlines claim that flights are unaffected by the strike, with no related delays. However, the union alleges that the company’s actions may undermine flight safety and that it has documents to support this claim. Atilay Aycin, Hava-Is president, claims “Turkish Airlines’ management tries to fly the aircrafts with too few personnel, below international minimum requirements, and part-time workers who have not completed their education. This puts passengers’ and workers’ safety at risk.”