Earlier this month Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands, discharged two of its flight attendants, Maria Hansen and Eyðgunn Rasmussen – apparently without prior warnings.
The discharge has shocked co-workers and led to much criticism locally and globally.
Maria and Eyðgunn are respectively the President and Vice-President of Súlan, the local trade union of the cabin crew – which is now part of the Flight Personnel Union (FPU), a Danish trade union for flight personnel.
Atlantic Airways has been accused of discharging the two employees to avoid any discussions about new settlements with the cabin crew staff. Maria and Eyðgunn were particularly involved in the effort of having Súlan incorporated into FPU in autumn last year.
However, Jóhanna á Bergi, Atlantic Airways CEO, denies that their roles in the trade union played any part in their discharge. were particularly involved in the effort of having Súlan incorporated into FPU in autumn last year.
Maria and Eyðgunn were called in to a meeting on Wednesday last week but were not informed what the agenda of the meeting would be, writes FPU news outlet Luftfart.nu.
During the meeting the flight attendants were fired on the premises that their attitude towards the airline was dissatisfactory.
Jan Gam, an attorney from FPU, accompanied them at the meeting. “I asked the company to provide concrete examples of how our members had displayed the alleged, unfortunate attitude. But the employer did not wish to elaborate,” said Jan Gam, according to luftfart.nu.
When contacted by Luftfart.nu, a couple of co-workers of Maria Hansen and Eyðgunn Rasmussen expressed their support for their colleagues. The co-workers, who wished to remain anonymous, were shocked by the decision to fire them:
“Eyðgunn and Maria are lovable, professional and customer-minded colleagues. I do not agree with the reasons Atlantic Airways has given; that they have attitude and cooperation problems,” said one colleague.
The discharges follow the decision of the staff to join FPU in autumn last year. FPU has since worked towards getting a new settlement with Atlantic Airways. The airline offered the flight attendants two months of pay for a voluntary resignation agreement which meant that they could not sue Atlantic Airways. The flight attendants, counselled by FPU, did not accept the offer.
Jan Gam said that they rejected the offer because this might be a serious violation of the “Act on protection against dismissal due to trade union membership”.