Fifteen Iberia cabin crew have filed a lawsuit against the airline for forcing them to wear FFP2 masks on board planes. The employees want recognition of their employment rights to be able to wear any type of mask, not just FFP2, as they sometimes have to fly for up to 12 hours.
The lawsuit was filed this weekend by the legal team of the Liberum Association, an organisation that defines itself as “defenders of the rights and freedoms that have been usurped from citizens in the course of the pandemic”.
According to one of the lawyers handling the case, Luis María Pardo, the workers want the company to respect Law 2/2021 of 29 March and Royal Decree 286/2022 of 19 April 2022, which “only states that it is obligatory to wear a protective mask”. Previously, “a multitude of conciliation requests have been submitted to the Mediation, Arbitration and Conciliation Service (SMAC) in Madrid”.
Also, as “recognition of a labour right”, the plaintiffs asked the company for the minutes of the Health and Safety Committee and the assessments of the level of risk for using this model. From 1 March 2020 to date.
IBERIA’S MOTIVES: NO DISTANCE, POSITIVE TRAVELLERS WITH NO SYMPTOMS…
In the airline’s written response, Iberia has given the reasons for requiring this model of masks. They have stressed that all matters related to the pandemic and, in particular, about the necessary protection, “have been discussed in the meetings held by the Health and Safety Committee”. They added that during 2020 and 2021 they were held on a monthly basis.
It has also argued that the aforementioned law states in article 7 that “workers must be provided with protective equipment appropriate to the level of risk to which they are exposed when the minimum distance of 1.5 metres between employees cannot be guaranteed”. And in this case, the airline continues, they have taken into account different aspects to determine the level of protection required.
For example, the presence of passengers who are not required to wear masks; possible positives without symptoms; close contacts; employees who live with vulnerable people or who are vulnerable themselves; or carrying out tasks that prevent them from maintaining a safe distance.
Therefore, they have considered that, although the epidemiological situation of the pandemic has improved in recent months, they have not considered it prudent to lower the level of protection as far as the type of mask is concerned. And, they add that, according to article 29 of the Law on Occupational Risk Protection, employees must use the means and equipment of protection provided by the employer, in accordance with the instructions received from the latter.
María Pardo has highlighted in the complaint that Iberia has not responded to some of the questions requested. For example, the evaluation of the crew members’ jobs, whether the workers’ representatives had been consulted beforehand and what was their opinion. They also criticised the fact that the company has not provided the requested risk level report and consider that they have “vaguely” described that the prevention delegates have debated and analysed within the Health and Safety Committee, but without the Committee’s act.
“THEY HAVE NOT MENTIONED THE POSITIVE FACTORS OF USING OTHER TYPES OF MASKS”.
In addition, they have stated in the complaint that Iberia has not mentioned the positive factors of using other types of protective masks. And they even determined to the Ministry of Health that, because of the job that the crew members do, as well as the technicians and commanders, it should be removed because of the safety work they do during the flight.
For all these reasons, they consider that, almost 30 months after the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, with 92% of the population vaccinated, “there is no health logic in continuing to oblige Flight Attendants to wear an FFP2 mask”.
In addition, they wanted to remind that the airline has HEPA filters that “clean the air” and have an efficiency of 99.95%, which “exponentially and substantially reduce exposure to the virus”. For this reason, the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) withdrew the obligation on 11 May 2022 in European Union aeroplanes.