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Cabin Crew Union Chief at Swiss International Airlines Accused of Embezzling More Than $500,000

Cabin Crew Union Chief at Swiss International Airlines Accused of Embezzling More Than $500,000

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A former employee at the union which represents cabin crew at SWISS International Airlines has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling more than $500,000 following an investigation by the Zurich Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Investigators haven’t revealed the exact figure that was allegedly stolen by the suspect, but the Kapers cabin crew union believes the final figure will be a “medium six-digit amount” (500,000 CHF = USD $562,000).

The theft first came to light after the former employee left office last summer. He was arrested in February following a months-long investigation and was charged with theft on Tuesday.

The union’s President, Sandrine Nikolic-Fuss said she felt “betrayed” and said the union was committed to working out what had happened to union dues paid by its members.

Flight attendants at SWISS have long complained about being underpaid, especially when taking into account the high cost of living in Switzerland. Last month, a labour inspectorate found that the airline had not been some of its Geneva-based crew members enough to meet minimum wage requirements.

The Cantonal Office of Labour Inspection ordered SWISS to pay the affected crew members catch-up lump sums following a complaint by the Kapers union.

Nikolic-Fuss says the union first noticed financial “irregularities” only after the former employee had left office. The union says it immediately called in a law firm to carry out an investigation and alerted prosecutors.

Cabin crew at the airline recently rejected a new collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union, but Nikolic-Fuss says there is still enough money to keep the union running as talks get back underway and a strike fund was never affected by the theft.

Kapers has a gag clause preventing it from releasing any further information, Nikolic-Fuss said earlier this week.

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