Any union movement within the company would be punished, stating flight safety has been jeopardized due to union activities within the working hours, Turkish Airlines, or THY, notified in its e-mail sent to the staff after Airline Employees’ Union (Hava-Sen) began to operate.
The chamber used by Hava-Sen representatives at Istanbul Atatürk Airport was also closed by the airport administration upon the pressure of Turkish Airlines. Therefore, pro-government Turkey’s Civil Aviation Workers Union (Hava-Is) affiliated to The Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (TÜRK-İŞ) is currently the sole trade union conducting activities at Turkish Airlines.
Underlining that flight safety has fallen into danger due to overtime works that have become obligatory for flight crew members, İskender Çarkçı, the Chairman of Hava-Sen, had previously stated, "some of the pilots faint during the flight and some have a nervous breakdown because of fatigue."
It was also claimed that there are many reports prepared regarding the "crew resource management" (CRM), which means the effective use of all available resources for flight crew personnel to assure a safe and efficient operation, reducing error, avoiding stress and increasing efficiency, has failed due to the anxious work environment.
Stating that union activities within working hours are subjected to permission of the employer according to Labor Law and Trade Union Act, Turkish Airlines authorities noted in the e-mail sent to the staff, "The problems caused by union activities carried out at the workplace within the working hours without permission are damaging to the motivation of our flight attendants, leading to an anxious working environment and threaten the flight safety due to a breakdown in CRM."
"We remind you once again the significance of communication and CRM for flight attendants, and kindly submitted for your information about those who got involved in such activities within the working hours and without permission of our corporation would be imposed administrative sanctions. Have a safe flight."
Turkish Airlines flight attendants are subjected to the rules tied to collective bargaining agreement because they are union members. Yet today, both sides of this agreement do not represent airline employees. The current administration, which has dubiously taken the helm of Hava-İş at the end of 2013, had signed the same version of the previous collective agreement. This pro-government union administration even handed over many crucial rights of flight attendants vital for a healthy and safe flight to the employer.
In the previous collective agreement, an employee working for 6 days had to rest on the 7th day. Yet, the General Directorate of Civil Aviation issued a new directive regarding the working conditions and the new administration of Hava-İş accepted that agreement including poor conditions for flight attendants. This directive granted the airline companies right to give employees 144 hours of overtime, which corresponds to 12 working days, meaning that flight attendants could be obliged to work for 12 days without ceasing.
Flight safety has fallen into danger due to overtime works imposed on airline employees, experts warn.