Unions fear massive job losses at Swissair

Swissair's pilots are not considering strike action despite the threat of job losses Keystone Archive

Up to 7,000 jobs could be lost after the collapse of the Swissair Group, according to the employees' unions, a number much higher number than the 1,750 job cuts announced by the company's administrators.

This content was published on October 4, 2001 minutes

"If you take into account peripheral activities such as maintenance, ground assistance and freight, we are expecting 4,000 jobs to be lost in Switzerland," Richard Dunkel, president of PUSH, an in-house union, said on Tuesday.

Added to the previously noted 3,000 jobs cut from in-flight caterer Gate Gourmet, a total of 7,000 people could see their position disappear, according to the union.

The unions want the banks that are taking over the remains of Swissair to spend SFr2 billion ($1.24 billion) extra to help the employees who are set to lose their jobs. They have also planned a protest outside Swissair's headquarters in Kloten on Wednesday.

Pilots dismayed by loss

Swiss pilots were also hit hard by the announcement on Monday that management was giving up efforts to save the ailing national carrier.

"We are all shocked and dismayed that the announcement was made so quickly and violently," said Hannu Ruprecht, a Swissair pilot and spokesman for Aeropers, the Association of Swissair cockpit personnel.

"We are very curious about what the future will bring," Ruprecht told swissinfo.

"The question is how can we make this change from Swissair to whatever the future brings as bearable as possible," Ruprecht said. Between 300 and 350 pilots are expected to lose their jobs with the downsizing of flight operations under Crossair management.

Flights are the priority

But Ruprecht confirmed his union was "willing and able to negotiate a new contract."

The president of Aeropers, Markus Jöhl, said on Tuesday the union is not considering strikes as a way of making its voice heard. "Maintaining flights is central to avoiding further problems for the company."

Jöhl believes the collective bargaining agreement signed by the Swissair pilots will still be valid for another year, as Crossair will be taking on most of the national carriers' duties.

swissinfo with agencies

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