Allegations of political interference in SAS negotiations

SAS leadership accused of applying psychological pressure on employees and finance minister accused of improperly injecting himself into the process

November 21st, 2012 9:17 am| by admin

Throughout the long negotiating process to agree on a plan to save SAS from bankruptcy, some SAS employees had voiced their displeasure with the leadership’s tactic of applying pressure on them to accept the plan via the media. And those hard feelings continue now that the deal has been sealed.


Several sources close to the negotiations told Politiken newspaper that SAS leadership was incessantly bombarding employees with messages meant to convey the gravity of the situation. One message even went so far as to warn employees to make sure they had money with them when they were out on flights so that they could get home if the company went bankrupt.


According to psychologist Janne Hertz, this put employees in “a complex psychological situation” that could come back to haunt SAS.


“It’s the classic recipe for stress, which can end up costing the company in terms of sick days and other consequences like fatigue and a lack of energy among employees,” Hertz told Politiken. 


The finance minister, Bjarne Corydon (Socialdemokraterne), who on Monday said the deal amounted to “a good day for Denmark”, is also facing allegations that he improperly tried to influence the outcome of the negotiations. 


On Tuesday, Corydon came under fire from the unions for sending an SMS to union officials telling them that “it would be tragic if SAS doesn’t survive.”


“It is completely unheard of,” Bente Sorgenfrey, head of the union blanket organisation FTF, told Ritzau news bureau. “I think that as finance minister, he should have refrained from injecting himself into the Danish agreement model. It doesn’t benefit the negotiation environment when he applies pressure via an SMS.”


“I was very angry with him for trying to interfere,” she continued. “These were already very difficult negotiations, and he should have thought about that.”


Dansk Folkeparti's (DF) chairman, Kristian Thulesen Dahl, agreed with Sorgenfrey's criticism and said Corydon had overstepped his bounds. 


"We have rules relating to the operation of government-run companies, which define what the Finance Ministry's role is in relation to ownership," Dahl told DR. "In my opinion, there is a valid reason to believe that the finance minister has broken those rules."


DF has now called for a consultation with Corydon, and Dahl said he expects Corydon to give him a thorough explanation for his actions.


In his defence, Corydon told Politiken that he feared that the cabin personnel's union, CAU, which was the last of eight total unions to sign off on the savings plan, didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation.

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