Norwegian strike

[Transparency note: I was, for a short time, secretary of the local club of the Parat/Prifo trade union at Autronica Fire and Security AS; ParatLuftfart — the section of Parat for aircrew — is involved in the current dispute with Norwegian]

The Norwegian pilots’ strike is happening.

The fact is that Norwegian is the kind of company it is and the staff have grievances; the minutiae here are not important (although — in our greed based society — I’m not sure I want the pay of people who we entrust with the lives of 180-odd people on board to be comparable with that of a consultant who is basically guessing, because that sends the wrong signals*).

What is important however, from my point-of-view as a person who travels a lot is that I get to where I need to be. I travel by plane a lot — twice a week usually — and I’m generally pleased by Norwegian’s service, however, I’m not keen on the idiotic rhetoric coming from the company. Apologizing for the strike. No, that is unnecessary, not only is it unnecessary, but it’s also offensive.

I had to ring customer service to change a flight — I was treated very professionally by an offshore worker who went out of his way to help — but they obviously felt a need to apologize (as they do on their website). As I explained, I support the strike and have made other arrangements so that my travel (to see a sick relative) would not be disrupted. I also made it clear that I realized that the fifty minute wait I had endured to get in touch with customer support was probably nothing compared with the extra workload the on- and offshore telephone operators had to deal with.

At this point, it’s relevant to mention that I’m not keen on paying for fifty minutes of wait time, but you fly with Norwegian, you pay the price – the cheap price involves paying for wait time and offshoring and bad conditions for workers as well as the kinds of practice, well, companies like Norwegian practice. Some offshoring is inevitable — in my case, I have no issue speaking English and 24-hour opening times are a must for an international travel concern.

So, I wasn’t bothered by the strike — I paid for a cheap ticket (not very cheap in this case, but it was convenient time-wise) and I suffer the consequences. I will have to now take an inconvenient train. I may get used to travelling by train, in which case I will probably travel twice a week by (night) train rather than shelling out for travel to-and-from the airport and a cheapo-cheapo flight.

My offshore operator responded to my question about whether things were going OK for him at this busy time was a telling response about how the majority of people view those who do work for them: he said that it would have been OK if everyone had been pleasant, but there was a lot of “shouting and cursing”. This was a surprise-non-surprise. It’s a truly unpleasant way of behaving that serves no purpose and is not aimed at anyone with responsibility for the situation.

If you want to mouth off to Norwegian, do so via social media and direct it at the root cause of the problem — if you believe that to be Norwegian management so be it; if you believe it is the workers taking action, please feel free to fly with a company paying a pittance to those who would take it — society is probably better off without you.

*For sure, let’s abandon capital entirely, but until then, well, we must play the system.

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