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Brussels, 22 March, 2000

Anna Diamantopoulou welcomes agreement on working time for airline pilots and cabin crew

Social partners in the civil aviation sector today signed a working time agreement covering 100 000 mobile staff pilots and cabin crew. The agreement, which took almost a year to negotiate, limits annual working time to 2000 hours, substantially less than the 2304 hours laid down by the general working time directive. The limit also includes 'some elements of standby for duty assignment as determined by the applicable law' and restricts flying time to 900 hours lower than currently provided for by some Member State legislation. In addition, the accord gives "appropriate" health and safety protection for all mobile personnel. Significantly, it also contains provisions on a monthly and yearly minimum number of rest days. This is only the fifth such agreement that might be put as a Commission proposal to the Council, if social partners agree.

Welcoming it, Social Affairs Commissioner, Anna Diamantopoulou, said: "The agreement is an important contribution to the Lisbon summit on Employment, Economic Reform and Social Cohesion. Social partners in the civil aviation sector demonstrate their ability to take the lead in promoting new patterns of working life and in modernising the contractual framework for the organisation of work. It is hoped that the agreement will provide the political momentum to continue such engaging actions within the newly created Social Dialogue Committee in the sector."


Since the exclusion of transport sectors from the 1993 directive, the Commission has been pressing for progress on discussions on working time between both sides of industry at European level. In July 1997, it stimulated debate with a White Paper on sectors and activities excluded from the directive, followed by a second round of consultations in March 1998. The general directive is currently being amended to offer appropriate health and security protection for all sectors and activities previously excluded. Discussion is ongoing in a conciliation committee, where representatives of both the European Parliament and Council are trying to agree upon a common text.

In accordance with the Commission approach, sectoral legislation, preferably based on contractual agreements between European social partners, may complete the horizontal directive to cater for sector specific characteristics. Such agreements have already been concluded in the railways and maritime transport sectors. The maritime agreement has, at the request of the relevant social partners of that sector, been turned into a directive.

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