Norwegian Chairman Bjørn Kise grilled by press ahead of Monday's emergency board meeting. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
The company called an emergency board meeting on Monday morning which the Norwegian media has speculated will lead to the company filing to declare its Norwegian Air Norway subsidiary bankrupt.
As he went into the meeting, Chairman Bjørn Kise warned unions that they were putting the future of the entire company at risk.
“They are striking to secure their jobs. But in reality they are risking the positions of everyone employed in the whole group,” he told Norway’s NTB newswire as he arrived at Oslo’s Fornebu airport. “We must think of all out employees. There are just a few people in one of the subsidiaries who are striking."
The airline cancelled about 20 flights over the weekend, including one international flight from Copenhagen to Trondheim, after 70 pilots went on strike following a failure to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement by Friday’s deadline.
If a deal is not made by Wednesday, some 650 pilots are scheduled to join the strike.
Arve Sigmundstad, press officer for Norway’s Parat Union, told The Local that its members intended to stand firm if Norwegian attempted to lure them to join another subsidiary or be employed by an agency.
“We are prepared,” he said about the bankruptcy plan. “We will take the company to court and then we will argue that this is just a phoney bankruptcy, and that the pilots’ rights should be transferred from the daughter to the mother company,” he said.
Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper on Sunday reported that the Norwegian Pilots’ Union had warned its members that in the event of a bankruptcy they were not to sign contracts with OSM, an international staffing company which leases pilots to airlines.
The union has also threatened to report Norwegian’s hard-ball tactics to the International Transport Workers' Federation, and request sympathy actions, meaning that the company could for example, find itself unable to refuel internationally.
“It’s outrageous and it’s union-busting,” Sigmundstad said of the alleged bankruptcy strategy. “We haven’t seen these kinds of actions in Norway for over 100 years.”