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Finland — Finnair workers on strike over personnel transfer to temporary staffing agency

02 December 2009

As part of the Finnair group's structural development, the group's ground handling company Northport has agreed a transfer of business to staffing and recruitment agency Barona Group of Helsinki in terms of its baggage and apron services at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport starting 1 December 2009. Around 490 employees currently working for these operations will be transferred to Barona under their present terms of employment.

Finnair's Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Lasse Heinonen said "Instead of part-time work, Barona will be able to offer more full-time work at the airport and its vicinity. In ground handling operations, work is distributed unevenly throughout the day according to fluctuations in the amount of traffic. Northport has been loss-making already for years."

Moreover, as of 1 December 2009 a transfer of business to outsourcing firm Suomen Transval Oy has been agreed in terms of the warehouse activities of Finnair Cargo Terminal Operations, which provides cargo terminal services at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Cargo Terminal's 130 warehouse employees will transfer to the service of Suomen Transval Oy under their present terms of employment.

"Through the transfers of business, we can also better secure the future of personnel, because the new operators will offer employees more flexible and diverse work. We are seeking for more efficiency for our business. By creating solutions based on strategic partnerships, we can change our fixed costs into variable costs and focus on Finnair's core business," says Heinonen.

Northport's customer service functions and Finnair Cargo Terminal Operations' activities other than warehouse operations will remain within the Finnair Group.

However, 200 employees at Northport walked off the job on Monday to protest against Finnair's decision to outsource them. Finnair spokeswoman, Paeivi Huuhtanen, told Agence France Press "we have cancelled eight flights so far, one of which was an international flight to Brussels. It might be that we have to cancel some more flights."

Pekka Kaehkoenen, the representative of the aviation union, said "it was a big disappointment to us that we will be outsourced to a company that is known as a temporary staffing agency and is outside the aviation industry."

Finnair has been suffering from plunging passenger numbers and fares due to the global economic crisis. The company aims to cut its annual costs by 200 million Euro next year. Further personnel reductions have not been ruled out.

Last month Finnair reported a net loss of 20.7 million Euro in the third quarter. Sales had shrunk by -22% to 437 million Euro compared to the same period in 2008



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