A savings plan that was already facing great resistance from SAS employees looks to be hanging from a very thin thread now that it has been rejected by Danish pilots.
Lars Bjørking, the head of the pilots’ union Dansk Pilotforening, told Politiken newspaper this afternoon that his union, which represents some 500 Danish SAS pilots, would not accept the plan.
“We received a concrete proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement, which we have spent Monday and Tuesday pouring over,” Bjørking said. “We cannot agree to an ultimatum that we don’t know the reality of.”
SAS employees had already expressed their dissatisfaction with the 2.8 billion kroner annual savings plan, which will cut 800 jobs and force employees to take an average 12 percent wage reduction in an effort to stave off bankruptcy. Earlier today, members of the 1,400 member-strong Cabin Attendants Union (CAU) refused to take part in a meeting with SAS managing director Rickard Gustafson to discuss the main points of the plan directly with employees.
CAU members said they were upset that SAS had called on employees through the media to accept the plan, instead of appealing to them in person.
With Dansk Pilotforening’s refusal to accept the agreement, the plan to save the airline is now in doubt. Gustafson has been on record as saying that the offer is not up for negotiation and that SAS employees have two options: sign the agreement or see the airline shut its doors.
In an internal email obtained by Politiken, Gustafson positioned the savings plan as make or break for the company.
“I will be very clear. This plan is crucial for SAS’s survival,” the email read. “If we implement the initiatives we have put forth 100 percent, we have a future. If we say no to the plan, SAS will be headed for liquidation.”
As part of the plan, company executives will cut their salaries by 20 percent. For Gustafson, that cut amounts to about 1 million kroner per year.
The airline has given employees’ unions until November 18 to accept the plan. Should they do so, it will go into immediate effect.