US labour union calls on President Barack Obama to halt Cork flights plan

The biggest labour union in America has called on President Barack Obama to directly intervene and stop plans by Norwegian Air International to fly from Cork to the US as his term in the White House comes to an end.

US labour union calls on President Barack Obama to halt Cork flights plan

President of the Transportation Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Edward Wytkind, called on Mr Obama to reverse the decision on December 3 last to grant a licence to Norwegian Air to begin transatlantic flights.

The flights are due to begin this summer, with Cork- Boston and Cork-New York capturing the imagination of the public and business community alike.

Despite support in Ireland, there has been strenuous cross-party opposition in the US, with 100 Republicans and Democrats alike calling for the licence to be stopped.

Opponents claim that Norwegian Air engages in unfair work practices such as lower wages for workers. The company has vehemently denied it engages in unfair work practices.

The labour union represents 55 labour unions and more than 12.5 million workers. It has consistently opposed Norwegian Air plans to launch transatlantic flights since a tentative licence was granted in April 2016.

Writing in one of Washington DC’s most influential political newspapers and websites, The Hill, Mr Wytkind said: “President Obama can stop this. He can intervene and the Secretary of Transportation (Anthony Foxx) can amend or revoke the Department of Transport’s December 3 order because it is in the public interest to do so.

“If President Obama fails to reverse this decision, it will be left to president-elect Donald Trump to ensure that our aviation trade agreements are fully enforced.”

He said American aviation “was at a crossroads” and that if the license was granted, it would decimate air labour like the marine industry, which has seen mass decline in recent decades.

Mr Wytkind added: “Four years ago President Obama said he wouldn’t ‘stand by’ when our competitors violate the rules dictated by trade agreements. Our aviation trade rules with the EU unambiguously require that airlines abide by high labour standards and honour the respective labour laws on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Norwegian Air fails this test, and now is the time for the president to prove that his words hold weight and that commitments negotiated into trade agreements are not empty promises.”

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