Yesterday, the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), the umbrella organisation of Iceland’s labour unions, urged Icelanders to boycott the new low-cost airline Play. ASÍ stated in an announcement that Play should not be supported due to low wages for employees. The same day as the announcement, Play accused the union of “strange propaganda” and threatened a lawsuit, according to Vísir.
Low airfares at the cost of others
As stated by ASÍ, Play ignores all the basic principles when it comes to wages of employees in Iceland and the union went as far as encouraging pension funds and investors to boycott the airline. Play has made wage agreements with the trade union ÍFF, Íslenska flugmannafélagið, which is financed by Play itself, as ASÍ criticizes.
According to this wage agreement, average wages are paid lower than the basic unemployment benefits, which are 307,430 ISK per month. The lowest salary at Play, according to the contract with the Icelandic Pilots’ Association, is 266,500 ISK. Due to low salaries, the company intends to be able to offer lower airfares than other companies.
The union demands that Play enters wage negotiations with a “real” flight attendants union, Flugfreyjufélag Íslands, which is the contractor of Icelandair and was the union of WOW Air before its bankruptcy.
Play fights back
The same day of the accusations by ASÍ, Play has expressed great disappointment in the announcement made and threatens legal actions. Play claims that the union is conducting “sad and strange propaganda” against the airline, which according to itself is “directly established to bring Icelanders benefits in the form of lower airfare.”
Play’s CEO Birgir Jónsson, states in his own announcement that the figures mentioned by ASÍ are not correct and salaries for flight crews will be between 351,851 ISK and 454,351 ISK, regardless of work contribution. At the same time, he admits that in comparison to Icelandair, wages are lower. According to Birgir, this is due to “different company structures”. He furthermore states that ASÍ’s announcement is showing “arrogance” by encouraging Icelanders to boycott the new airline.
It remains to be seen whether Play will seek legal actions against the Icelandic Confederation of Labour.
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