New help for unions to challenge aviation flags of convenience

October 3, 2014

The ITF has produced a new education module to help its affiliates organise around the growing trend of flags of convenience (FOCs) in aviation.

The resource aims to create awareness among civil aviation unions of the immediate and long-term dangers stemming from an expansion of FOC practices in the global civil aviation industry.

It sets out the background and provides case studies of airlines trying to use FOCs at the expense of decent labour standards.

It also aids unions to identify problems in their own country and to report back to the ITF civil aviation section on their experiences, which will help share best practice and shape policy.

New materials will be added to the module, particularly in light of how the civil aviation industry is hit by the ongoing and fundamental changes in the way it is managed, operated and regulated.

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho explained: “Many affiliates had asked us for more information or support in tackling the threat of FOCs in aviation, of which Norwegian Air’s attempts to break into new markets with social dumping is a classic example.

“We believe that competition in long haul aviation needs to be transparent and fair, and not produce a downward drive for workers’ rights.

We are learning from the experience of our maritime unions, and will be keeping up the international pressure on this issue.”

FOCs have long been a feature of the maritime industry but are spreading into aviation, as liberalisation and deregulation have allowed airlines to register themselves and their aircraft in countries where safety oversight is below internationally-agreed standards.

Just recently, the ITF, ETF and affiliates in Europe and the United States hailed as a campaign victory the decision by the US to refuse Norwegian Air International an exemption for a foreign air carrier permit.

The ITF urges all its civil aviation affiliates to use the eight-page education module, and welcomes all feedback on how they have used the material and how it could be updated and developed.

The resource will also be available in Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish on 31 October.

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