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Half of Avianca Flights Grounded by Strike Half of Avianca Flights Grounded by Strike Source: Avianca

Avianca Hails Court Decision Declaring ACDAC Pilots’ Strike Illegal

Published in Companies Written by  October 07 2017 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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Avianca – Colombia’s biggest airline – hailed an October 6 decision by a District Court Tribunal in Bogota declaring a strike by some 700 pilots belonging to the Asociacion Colombiana de Aviadores Civiles (ACDAC) labor-union as illegal.

ACDAC-- the smaller of two unions representing Avianca pilots -- represents a tiny fraction of the more than 22,000 Avianca employees that work in 26 countries. The ACDAC union said it would appeal the Tribunal decision to Colombia's Supreme Court.

About half of Avianca’s daily flights have had to be cancelled because of the ACDAC strike -- stranding thousands of travelers and hurting many businesses in Colombia that depend upon business-and-pleasure tourism.

In its lawsuit against the strike, Avianca contended that airlines are a “public service,” which under Colombia’s constitution forbids “public” union strikes.

However, Avianca also pointed out that even if such strikes conceivably could be allowed under the constitution, the 700 members of ACDAC shouldn’t be allowed to dictate labor terms to the 21,000 other employees of the company.

“After 17 days of illegal cessation of activities by the ACDAC pilots, which has gravely affected travelers, the economy, competitiveness and connectivity of our country, the Tribunal recognized the illegality of the strike pushed by this union,” according to Avianca. “Avianca hopes that given this court decision, the ACDAC pilots will now return to work at the earliest moment.”

In parallel to the court action, an arbitration panel organized by Colombia’s Labor Ministry would require ACDAC pilots to return to work while negotiations over contract terms would continue, Avianca pointed out. However, ACDAC has rejected this contention.

“As pilots return to work, we will continue to operate under contingency plans, aiming to serve our passengers without delays and with the security that has always characterized our operations,” added Avianca CEO Hernán Rincón.

Avianca pilots are already among the best-paid employees in all of Colombia and enjoy numerous perks. The ACDAC union, however, is pushing for a wage-and-benefits package equivalent to a 60% hike in pay – wildly in excess of the wage increases realized by all other workers’ unions in Colombia, and vastly in excess of the national 4% annual inflation rate.

One contract change proposed by Avianca but opposed by the union is usage of cell-phone messages to notify pilots of flight delays or cancellations. Today, pilots get such notices via motorized couriers, an archaic and costly system.

In response, the ACDAC pilots are demanding that Avianca buy them new iPads or laptops -- just to receive company messages and do telecommuting work.

The ACDAC pilots also are demanding a 40 hours/month cutback in work hours – meaning they’d work 160 hours/month instead of 200.

They’re also demanding a COP$2 million (US$680) payment for upgrading personal office spaces, a COP$300,000 (US$100) per month subsidy for internet and phone connections, and extra pay for telecommuting work -- equivalent to 300% of what they’re paid while flying.

The pilots also are demanding unlimited free vacation flights for themselves and their families, free medical insurance for family members, lifetime free medical care upon retirement, a 70% reduction in income tax payments, and a COP$500,000 (US$170) monthly bonus if planes occasionally transport “dangerous” materials.

Finally, the pilots are demanding a COP$6 million (US$2,000) contract signing bonus.

Entry-level copilots at Avianca start out with salaries of COP$9.4 million (US$3,200) per month but can reach COP$17 million (US$5,790) per month after several years of seniority. Avianca pilot captains start out at COP$18 million (US$6,000) per month but salaries can go as high as COP$28 million (US$9,540) per month with more seniority.

Read 275 times Last modified on Last modified on October 07 2017

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