WOW air cabin crew refusing to “clean” aircraft for free

Photo: WOW air

Reports have emerged of members of cabin crew working for Icelandic low-cost airline WOW air refusing to follow recent new instructions for extra tidying duties while aircraft are on turn-around abroad.

Individual staff members have complained about the new duties, indicating that the extra tidying tasks are expected to be performed for no extra pay and are not part of their job description.

Talks have begun between the disgruntled staff members in question and the airline, says WOW air spokesperson Svanhvít Friðriksdóttir.

Svanhvít Friðriksdóttir.

Svanhvít Friðriksdóttir. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Árni Sæberg

“This issue will be discussed alongside other issues regarding working conditions,” she says, referring to the new work procedures recently introduced. “WOW air is a low-cost airline and similar procedures are in place with other low-cost airlines.”

“One part of the discussion is differing interpretations of what constitutes ‘cleaning’ on board,” Friðriksdóttir explains. “The new procedures require cabin crew to cross seat-belts, clear any rubbish from the seat-back pockets and change bin-bags in the toilets and galleys, if necessary.”

Friðriksdóttir points out that cabin crew already walk through the aircraft just before landing with the bin trolley, so passengers can throw rubbish away. “Most of them do, so it’s not as if the seat pockets are going to be full of rubbish.”

Who should tidy up aircraft while on turn-around?

Who should tidy up aircraft while on turn-around? Photo: Iceland Monitor/Eggert Jóhannesson

She also clarifies that if actual cleaning services are required, e.g. if a passenger has been sick, then service providers from the airport are brought in.

“Only a few members of staff are refusing to follow these instructions. Many have been willing to perform the new tasks,” Friðriksdóttir says, adding: “Under no circumstances are cabin crew expected to clean or vacuum the aircraft, or anything like that. Our view is that the duties contained in the new procedures cannot be deemed to be cleaning.”

According to Friðriksdóttir, the same procedures are in place with domestic airline Air Iceland, both on their domestic and Greenland routes.

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