Croatia Airlines has fired all 42 cabin crew members who took sick leave over the May Day public holiday in protest of the proposed working conditions outlined in the new collective agreement. The airline’s management noted that staff staged a “blank protest” contrary to state law. The Croatia Airlines Employee Board will now discuss the sackings. However, even if the board does not approve the mass dismissal, it does not prevent the management from having it their own way. The Union of Croatia Airlines Cabin Crew, which has not signed up to the new collective agreement, has said that their sick colleagues were harassed over the weekend by investigators from the Croatian Health Insurance Fund. They insist that the crew who took sick leave are in fact ill.
The latest move is likely to even further stir tension within the airline and damage already shaky relations between pilots, cabin crew and the management. Croatia Airlines CEO, Krešimir Kučko, has publicly said that the carrier must shed some 200 employees if it is to carry through with its restructuring program.
Tamara Herceg, from the cabin crew union recently said, “Great pressure has been put on doctors and my colleagues who are showing up to work sick. Employee rights are also being trampled upon with the management cutting down on holidays and non working days. They are purposely assigning staff to do flights on their days off. Those who do not show up to work risk losing their jobs”. Cabin crew members have threatened they will go on strike, although such action would not affect the airline to a great extent due to strict industrial action laws. On May 1 and 2 a total of thirteen flights were cancelled due to crew failing to show up to work.