Monday, April 23, 2018

As Boeing Provides Pilots To Replace Avianca Strikers, United States Pilots Raise Concerns

Four union groups that represent U.S. airline pilots are challenging Boeing’s decision to send replacement pilots to Colombia to fly 787s in place of Avianca pilots who were fired for striking.

Last month, Boeing sent a dozen 787 pilots to work for Avianca after the carrier fired about 100 of its pilots who participated in a seven-week strike that ended in November.

So far, about a half dozen of the pilots sent by Boeing are flying on Avianca’s trans-Atlantic routes, while one or two pilots – the number is disputed – were fired for refusing to work in place of the strikers.

“Whether intentional or not, Boeing has essentially provided strikebreakers to Avianca Colombia, thus aiding and abetting the egregious actions of Avianca Colombia management,” Todd Insler, chairman of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, wrote in a March 28 letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.

Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers said the dozen pilots are not Boeing employees, but rather work for a contractor that supplies pilots to Boeing. “The pilots supporting Avianca are employees of a purchased services supplier, and we don’t discuss supplier personnel matters," Bickers said.

The contractor, Cambridge Communications Limited, is based in the Isle of Man in the British Isles. In a circular advertising for experienced pilots willing to fly for client Boeing Pilot Services for $547.95 per day, it said applicants “must have no issues with union busting or strike breaking.”

Besides the United ALPA chapter, which has about 12,500 members, Boeing’s involvement is opposed by national ALPA, which represents about 60,000 pilots at 34 airlines in the U.S. and Canada: Allied Pilots Association, which represents 15,000 American pilots and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which represents 23,000 Boeing engineers as well as about 50 Boeing pilots.

“Boeing management's claim of one degree of separation gives us no comfort,” said APA spokesman Dennis Tajer. “Their action represents passive aggressive anti-worker behavior.”

SPEEA’s pilots deliver aircraft for Boeing and provide some training. As for flying in place of fired strikers, “Our pilots wouldn’t do that,” spokesman Bill Dugovich said.

Jaime Hernandez, president of the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators (ACDAC), which represents the Avianca pilots, said the contracted pilots wear Boeing uniforms.

“Boeing says they are not Boeing employees,” he said. “I don’t know the reality behind that, but these are the pilots Boeing offered when they sold the aircraft.”

“When airlines buy new airplanes, such as the 787, they don’t have the pilots to fly those airplanes,” Hernandez said. As part of the contract, Boeing and Airbus provide pilots to train the customer’s pilots.  Under Colombian law, foreign pilots are forbidden to fly aircraft for Colombian airlines but “foreign instructors can be authorized to give instructions for six months, and it can be extended for six more months,” he said.

Avianca took delivery of its first 787 in December 2014.

Avianca’s 1,300 pilots struck on Sept. 20, seeking increased wages and benefits. They voted to suspend the strike and return to work in November, despite not reaching a resolution to the dispute. About 100 pilots were fired while about six dozen left voluntarily to work for other global airlines.

The carrier is seeking to hire more pilots.

Hernandez, a captain with 22 years at the carrier, said he was fired three weeks ago, “I was the first one fired,” he said.

In a prepared statement, Avianca noted that ACDAC’s strike has been declared illegal by the Superior Tribunal of Bogota and the Colombian Supreme Court.

“One of the consequences of illegally conducting an illegal strike is that the contracts of individuals who participated in it may be terminated as a result of disciplinary proceedings that safeguard the right of defense, which is what Avianca is doing,” the carrier said.

“The government of Colombia, through the aviation authority and in accordance with Colombian regulations, authorized Avianca to temporarily use up to 12 foreign pilots in its Boeing 787 operation,” the carrier said

“The support provided by the Boeing pilots will allow Avianca to promote dozens of Colombian pilots to the wide body fleet,” it said. A” strong operation will continue to provide Avianca captains with the best salaries and benefits in the country and increase the demand for new pilots.”

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

  1. Sad ... Always someone willing to walk over another's back.