SAS and pilots’ representatives returned to the negotiating table on Monday morning after pausing talks Sunday evening.
The pause followed a 33-hour negotiation marathon, where the parties continued bargaining through the night on Saturday evening, which analysts had suggested could be a sign the parties were close to an agreement.
Talks approaching ‘end of the road’
Chief negotiator for SAS, Marianne Hernæs, said today’s talks could be decisive in determining whether a deal could be struck or negotiations break down again.
“It is starting to become irresponsible to continue. That is where we are approaching today,” she told reporters in Stockholm.
As well as suggesting that the battle to find an agreement may be “lost” she said that the mediation process would only continue if the parties were close to striking a deal.
“If we are close to a solution with only a few small things left, then we can consider a couple of hours more, but we will soon be at the end of the road,” Hernæs said.
She added that a decision on ending mediation talks would be made by SAS management if an agreement isn’t found today.
Ombudsman Mats Ruland was more optimistic when speaking to the press this morning and said that the parties had made steady progress in recent days.
“I hope we can get a solution. That is my goal here, and I have not given up yet,” he said to reporters outside Näringslivets Hus, where talks are taking place.
Jan Levi Skogvang, at talks on behalf of SAS pilots represented by the union Parat, told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK that unions were also working towards securing a deal which would bring an end to strike action today.
“We are working to finish, (we) hope SAS does the same,” he said.
Roger Klokset, chairman of the Norwegian pilot association, told NRK that the group he heads would be willing to continue talks beyond today if necessary.
Are the parties any closer to an agreement?
On Sunday, Jacob Pedersen, aviation analyst at Sydbank, predicted that the parties were close to an agreement.
“I have no other good suggestions other than it must be close. Whether it will be Sunday, Monday or maybe Tuesday is more of an open question,” he told Danish newswire Ritzau.
Meanwhile, Claes Stråth, one of the mediators involved in the process, said that progress was being made.
“We have made a list of around 25 areas to be addressed, and many of them have now been reviewed,” he told Swedish newswire TT.
SAS also opened strongly on the Norwegian stock market on Monday morning, rising 8 percent minutes after opening. By 10:30am, shares had increased by 15.41 percent, which indicates the market is optimistic that the parties in Stockholm will be able to find an end to the strike.
According to NRK, a key sticking point in the negotiations is the duration of the agreement to be made since re-negotiation and strikes won’t be allowed during that period. SAS is pushing for a deal for six, eight, or ten years, while a shorter term would benefit the pilots.
Pilots are striking over wage cuts demanded by management as part of a restructuring plan to keep the airline afloat and the practice of not re-hiring pilots laid off during the pandemic.
Axed staff have had to compete against external applications for roles with subsidiaries SAS Link and SAS Connect on less favourable terms than with the main airline SAS Scandinavia.
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