Britain Stronger in Europe
With the EU Referendum approaching on the 23rd June, we wanted to provide a platform to both campaigns to provide answers to some key questions that pilots will have on areas of specific interest, such as aviation regulation and employment law.

We asked five questions of both the Remain and Leave campaigns. Below you will find the answers submitted in response by the Remain camp (Britain Stronger In Europe).

Unfortunately, the Leave campaign has not yet offered any answer, but we will continue to ask for their response and publish accordingly in order to provide as balanced a view as possible for our members.

Question 1

Pilots do not view safety regulation at the EU level (through EASA) favourably, especially around pilot fatigue. Why should pilots place their faith in the continued Europeanisation of safety regulation when so far the outcome has been so poor compared to domestic CAA regulation?

Britain Stronger In Europe response:

"Setting air traffic rules at the European level gives Britain a say in air traffic rules across Europe. It is crucial that the UK is at the table when the rules are made, to make sure that pilots, crew and passengers are as safe as possible. If we leave, our government, safety regulators and airlines will have less say over the rules of our nearest air traffic space.

"In addition, regulation at the European level helps protect air traffic and airports from the threat of terrorism. The head of Europol and former chiefs of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ all agree that leaving the EU would make the UK’s counter-terrorism work more difficult, by disrupting existing frameworks for cooperation and potentially lessening our access to databases of security information. The EU’s new Passenger Name Records regime will enhance national authorities’ ability to prevent suspects from boarding planes entering or leaving the EU. If we left, our continued access to the PNR system would be uncertain."

Question 2

Free movement of services means that our stronger safety record and regulation has started to be undermined by airlines from other EU countries with a weaker regulatory structure being able freely to operate in the UK. Why is this a good thing for UK pilots and passengers?

Britain Stronger In Europe response:

"One of the most important benefits to the UK of our membership of the EU is that it has harmonized regulation between member countries, which ensures that a British airline is under the same regulatory regime as any airline in the EU. This benefits all UK businesses and employees, including airlines and pilots, because competitors in other countries cannot take advantage of weaker regulatory regimes to get an unfair advantage against a British company and British workers. Importantly, the UK has a voice in setting these regulations; if we were to leave the EU but wanted to maintain our trade with Europe, we could end up subject to the same regulations but with no influence in setting them.

"Free movement of services also allows British workers greater opportunity to pursue their careers anywhere in the EU, through the mutual recognition of qualifications, including airline pilot licenses. This gives British pilots greater personal and professional opportunity to live and work anywhere in Europe.

"In addition, our membership of the EU means more customers for British airlines, securing jobs in the airline industry. Our membership of the EU expands our home market from 65 million consumers to 500 million. The airline industry is one of the ones that benefits most from EU membership: according to data from the European Commission the price of flights has come down 40% because the EU changed the rules to allow low-cost airlines like EasyJet to set up in Europe."

Question 3

Is employment protection in the EU really a good reason to vote remain? In the UK we still have some of the weakest employment laws in the EU, and the ability of unions to take collective action in trans-national companies has been completely undermined at an EU level.

Britain Stronger In Europe response:

"A report by the TUC analysing UK employment rights and the EU concluded that there are ‘significant employment rights gains that continue to accrue to UK workers as a result of our EU membership…, including access to paid annual holidays, improved health and safety protection, rights to unpaid parental leave, rights to time off work for urgent family reasons, equal treatment rights for part-time, fixed-term and agency workers, rights for outsourced workers, and rights for workers’ representatives to receive information and be consulted, particularly in the context of restructuring.

"The EU provides for minimum standards, leaving it in the hands of individual EU states like the UK to legislate in detail and provide for implementation. This allows for flexibility to suit the conditions of individual countries and their labour markets. Some rights that UK workers enjoy are the result of UK, not EU, action. These include instances where the UK provides better conditions than the EU’s minimum requirements. But if the UK left the EU, workers would no longer enjoy the certainty that comes from having the EU setting a floor for their minimum rights and conditions. In addition, if the UK left the EU, to retain access to the single market it would have to keep applying EU rules – but it would lose its say over them.

"In contrast if we vote to remain in the EU, UK workers can expect further benefits in employment laws. As the TUC report said, ‘There are also areas where European policy makers are currently considering future positive developments which could bring employment protection gains for UK workers. Measures could include extending the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to all workers (including those on zero-hours contracts), improved work-life balance rights and improved rights for posted workers. UK unions continue to work through European structures with European partners to advance and extend this agenda.’"

Question 4

Many people view the EU as valuing the free-market and business more highly than social concerns.  Economic freedoms always trump social freedoms. Is that true?

Britain Stronger In Europe response:

"It is categorically untrue that economic freedoms trump social freedoms. The EU is unique because it is not just concerned with the market, but also with the equally important social dimension.

"As the EU – often led by the UK – has developed the single market free trade area over the last thirty years, making it easier for goods and services to be traded across the bloc, it has also developed stronger workers’ rights, as outlined in the answer to the previous question. This protects employees and other workers, and ensures that EU countries cannot compete through a “race to the bottom” on standards that damages workers’ rights."

Question 5

Freedom of movement of labour and capital have resulted in strong cross-border airlines. But despite years of discussion and negotiations there is no provision for cross-border collective representation and bargaining. Is that on the agenda and if not, why not?

Britain Stronger In Europe response:

"British unions and professional associations are already strengthened by being in the EU and working with others across the continent. BALPA, for example, is an affiliate of the European Cockpit Association (ECA), and, has itself said it ‘exerts its influence directly or through membership of ECA and IFALPA working groups.’ Experts in industrial relations have explicitly written that ‘BALPA’s political power … derives partly from its prominence within several international bodies (such as the European Cockpit Assocation (ECA) and the International Federation of Airline Pilots Associations – IFALPA) and the lobbying role of these organizations at the supra-national level.

"On cross-border representation and bargaining specifically, the TUC noted in its report that ‘the [European Court of Justice] may be taking a more positive approach to collective bargaining following the recent decision in a Finnish case (Sähköalojen ammattiliitto)."

Leave Campaign

Both campaigns were originally approached in May. Unfortunately, the questions submitted to the Leave campaign have not been answered in time for this blog post. We have repeatedly asked Leave to respond and continue to offer an open platform for both campaigns. Should the Leave campaign respond before Thursday's EU Referendum, we will post their answers.

Please find below a copy of the questions submitted to Leave: 

Question 1

The regulation of aviation has become increasingly centralised at the EU level. Why should pilots believe that bringing those regulatory powers back to the UK will improve safety?

Question 2

Some non-EU European countries still have their aviation sector regulated by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Would that be the case if we left the EU? And if so, wouldn’t it be better to be inside affecting rule-making rather than having it imposed?

Question 3

Ours is a truly international industry. Might leaving the EU harm our successful aviation sector?

Question 4

British airline groups such as easyJet, Thomas Cook and Thomson are part of Europe-wide companies with bases across the EU.  What reassurances can you give that leaving the EU will not isolate us and negatively impact the cross-border trade of these companies?

Question 5

The Remain campaign is making much of the employment protections afforded to British workers by the EU. Do you believe that workers’ rights would be equally protected outside of the EU? How can we be sure?

 

Disclaimer: the views expressed by individuals in any article included on blog.balpa.org are not necessarily those of the Association. The messages in this article express only the personal views of the authors.

Posted on 17 June 2016

Comments 1
Comments
Glen Morean
"Unfortunately, the Leave campaign has not yet offered any answer, but we will continue to ask for their response and publish accordingly in order to provide as balanced a view as possible for our members."

What? The Leave campaign is silent on post-Brexit economics and hard policy to manage the multinational aviation industry on which so many British jobs rely, and unable to offer British workers any assurances on worker's rights? Well that's a surprise — or not.
20/06/2016 16:37:14