Young pilots bullying older pilots in Norway

Fears of staffing cuts motivating bullying of 20 per cent of pilots

Younger pilots at Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) in Norway, afraid for their own jobs in the face of pending staffing cuts, are allegedly trying to bully their older colleagues into resigning or retiring.

The bullying is extreme. One veteran pilot was told his legs would be broken or his life would be at risk if he didn't quit. Another said pilots over age 60 are routinely called "bags of dirt, whores and pimps." One posting on the SAS pilots' internal website said: "Bully them out of SAS. Fly with the old farts, but leave them in the 'barracks' when the crew goes out to eat or enjoy themselves."

Staff with the least seniority are usually the ones to get cut, so these young pilots want to force the older pilots out first.

These on-the-job conflicts could be endangering passenger safety, warns Norway's aviation authorities, who are demanding management and unions at SAS halt the bullying immediately.

Norwegian newspaper Dagavisen reported that the bullying of veteran pilots is out of control and inspection leader Kjell Klevan at Norway's Civil Aviation Authority said SAS was first warned about the bullying five months ago but it hasn't taken any concrete measures to address the problem.

While SAS has given the safety authority verbal assurances that airline safety is being taken care of, that's not enough, said Klevan. SAS denies pilots are bullying each other, despite the fact a workplace survey found 160 of 800 pilots reported they were being bullied by colleagues.

The problem extends beyond individual pilots to the unions. One pilots' union has already excluded those over 60 because they don't comply with the collective bargaining agreement to retire at age 60, said Svein Dusete of the Pilots' Association.

Dag Falk-Peterson, operations leader for SAS Norway, said the Civil Aviation Authority's charges of bullying are wrong and working conditions at SAS are better than they've been in a long time.

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