TAP faces summer of discontent

 In News, TAP

Portugal’s airline TAP is back to 2019 levels in terms of flight operations but is facing a summer of discontent as pilot unions threaten strikes.

Unions representing the airline’s pilots are contesting cuts in salaries which have been introduced as part of a major restructuring programme agreed with Brussels which should save the national carrier from bankruptcy.
Unions also don’t agree with the terms of ACMI contracts — also known as wet or damp leasing, ACMI leasing is an agreement between two airlines, where the lessor agrees to provide an aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance (ACMI) to the lessee — in return for payment on the number of block hours operated.
On 20 June the Portuguese Civil Aviation Pilots Union (SPAC) accused TAP of “manipulation and propaganda” and guaranteed that it would use “all legal means at its disposal” to challenge what they say are terms that not being met.
This was just days after TAP announced that it would reduce cuts to pilots’ salaries by 10%, and increase the level from which salary reductions for the rest of the companies’ employees would apply.
In the same statement from the unions, they list what they say are a number of “sins” that the company has committed, which includes issues that have already been brought up in the past, such as grounded aircraft because of missing certificates, the change of premises which employees were not happy about, using small planes like Embrarers instead of Airbuses with more passenger capacity, and ACMI service provision contracts used to stem operational difficulties.
In another communiqué sent out to the press on 19 June, the union SPAC highlighted “TAP’s board had informed employees of what its position is in respecting signed agreements and, as such, would unilaterally change working conditions”.
“In the specific case of pilots, who to date have suffered a salary cut unequaled by any other airline in Europe (45%) with 20% of this cut allegedly having been introduced because there was an excess of pilots, and will now involve overtime, taking away part of the cuts, even though that the agreement that was signed stating that these could not be carried out”.
On 20 June, Portugal’s Civil Aviation Flight Personnel Union (SNPVAC) accused TAP of wanting to oppose “any union position that was deemed more radical” after having announced an increase in the guaranteed minimum (salary) according to an internal note. According to Lusa, that union said that it had been informed on Thursday by TAP’s Executive Commission of a “generous” increase in the Guaranteed Minimum established by the Emergency Agreements”.
In a message sent to employees on Sunday, the company emphasised that one of the main goals defined by these cuts was to introduce a guaranteed minimum salary to which “no cut would be applied”. The application of this guaranteed minimum means that the effective cuts are not 25%, but vary between 12% and 15%.
As a result of an “ongoing and continuous negotiation” it had been decided to update the minimum guaranteed salary increased from €1,330 to €1,401, backdated to January 2022.
But in a note sent to its members, the SNPAVAC said that it could not be “satisfied with a reduction in cuts for its colleague pilots which would allow the airline company to use the argument that the “suspension of the Normal Working Period by 10% and in the payment of overtime to Commercial Flying Personnel” would be “a reason to block any kind of improvement in the conditions of TAP Group employees”, as has been communicated by the airline.