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Sweden – Cabin crew’s contracts moved to staffing agency

09 January 2014

Days before Christmas, Norway-based airline Norwegian announced that the contracts of 52 cabin crew from Sweden would be ‘moved’ to staffing firm Proffice. The workers would continue working for Norwegian but would no longer be directly employed by the airline, reports thelocal.se.

One of the workers involved, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Local: "All Proffice employees are now scared, we are no longer employed by an airline. When they say jump, we have to say 'How high?' We are all [angry with] the union and the fact that they own shares in the staffing firm makes us feel that they aren't listening to us. It's very frustrating; from year to year they are giving us worse conditions."

The cabin crew's union, Unionen, is reportedly one of the ten biggest shareholders in Proffice. 

In the latest twist, it was reported in local media over the festive season, that the move to Proffice reduced the number of days off each worker had per month from 12 to nine, despite initial promises that all working conditions would remain unchanged.

Mikael Gustafsson, a Swedish MEP, raised the issue in an official letter to the European Commission. He wrote: "The Temporary Agency Work Directive (2008/104/EC) entered into force in 2008 and was based on the principle of equal treatment. In other words, employees of temporary employment agencies should not have less favourable working conditions than employees in the user enterprise."

Mr Gustafsson told The Local he found it regrettable that the EU had introduced a temporary workers directive at all, as staffing firms should be regulated on national not union level, but said the current problem was simply that companies based in Sweden were disregarding the 'equal treatment' clause. In other words, staffing companies should uphold domestic laws and standards

"It's a downward spiral. This kind of (staffing behaviour) forces even 'good' companies to behave badly in order just to compete and survive," Mr Gustafsson told The Local.

He is currently awaiting a response from the European Commission. 

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