Norwegian Airlines to the Supreme Court

Employer responsibility in Norwegian to the Supreme Court

Who has real employer responsibility for pilots and cabin crew in Norwegian Airlines (NAS)? For one and a half weeks the question will be dealt with by the Norwegian Supreme Court.

The cabin crews and pilots brought the claim that it is the parent company Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA to court to decide who their real employer is. The cabin crew is currently employed by Norwegian Cabin Services Norway AS, while the pilots are employed by Norwegian Pilot Services Norway AS.

Parat’s members won in the District Court, but lost in the Borgarting Court of Appeals and therefore appeal the verdict to the Norwegian Supreme Court, on Tuesday the seven-day trial of the case begins.

– If the Trade Unions get their claim verified, it may require a reorganisation to a model that is not sustainable in the future. In the worst case, we will be forced to wind up our Norwegian business. The result will be that the workplaces are moved out of Norway, says Norwegian’s Communications Manager, Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen, to NTB.

Principal for Norwegian working life

The leader in Parat, Hans-Erik Skjäggerud, believes that the current type of business organisation affects employer responsibility and that the case is both fundamental and important for the entire Norwegian working life.

– We mean Norwegian pulverising employer responsibility through its form of organisation, something we will see more of in a number of industries in the future. We believe employers should be allowed to organise the business as they wish, but not without taking responsibility for their employees, Skjæggerud said when the appeal was filed in April.

Parat’s lawyer, Christen Horn Johannessen, believes that the verdict from the Court of Appeals is problematic for Norwegian working life, as it allows companies to organise themselves so that they can retain total influence over working conditions, but without taking the responsibility for its employees.

– Such a legal interpretation implies that rights and responsibilities in the Working Environment Act cannot be enforced and thus does not give Norwegian workers the rights and protections they ought to have, Horn Johannessen said after the verdict in the court of law fell.

Can’t accept dictation

It is five years since the Norwegian Board of Directors decided that the company must be reorganised in order to grow further and to compete internationally. The company is convinced that a model with a listed holding company at the top, with wholly or partly owned subsidiaries, is essential to ensure, not only the international market access but also a sustainable company and safe jobs, including in Norway.

The Norwegian case is about how the Norwegian group of companies is to be organised and not about employees’ rights, Sandaker-Nielsen emphasises. He specifies that everybody is a permanent employee and has a collective agreement.

– We can not accept that a trade union in a single country should dictate strategic choices and the model of our global business in a manner that affects our ability to compete internationally. That is the responsibility of the Board of Directors and the Management. The way the group of companies is organised today ensures that Norwegian can participate in international competition and continue to create new jobs both in Norway and internationally. In addition, we ensure that a large Norwegian company can retain its headquarters in Norway, the Communications Manager insists.

He also shows that Parat represents only eleven Norwegian employees in this case, and furthermore stresses that most pilots and cabin crew are pleased with today’s scheme, as confirmed by recent employee surveys.
Court Employer Noray Norwegian Parat Supreme
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