Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pilot Strike Produces Result In Dispute With National Passenger And Freight Carrier

Garuda Staff Return to Work After Indonesian Airline Backs Down
Shipping News Feature

INDONESIA – It has been a year of mixed fortunes for Garuda, the national air carrier which was informed in April this year that all charges concerning air freight cargo cartel activity had been dropped by authorities in New Zealand despite continuing prosecutions proceeding against a dozen other carriers for collusion over fuel surcharges.

Now however the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and its Indonesian member union IKAGI tell us that labour relations at the company are worsening with the company’s pilots striking today claiming the company has intimidated union members and refused to implement a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) since 2009. Garuda bowed to pressure this morning and agreed to go back to the negotiating table The 24 hour stoppage came after a prolonged dispute and Garuda says it laid on 130 extra pilots to ensure most services would continue unaffected, but capitulated under pressure and agreed to return to talks over pay and conditions – native pilots claim they are paid 30% less than overseas licence holders.

Usually in this type of situation preference is given to keeping to passenger schedules whilst cargo flights are sacrificed, passengers shout louder than freight forwarders and cause greater expense to the air carrier. The problems at Garuda however are not limited to pilot discontent however according to union sources. IKAGI president Zainudin Malik commented:

“We are very concerned about what is going on in Garuda Indonesia. Day by day, industrial relations and working conditions are worsening. The strike by our colleagues in the APG pilots’ union illustrates the kinds of problems workers are experiencing with the policies laid down the management. “

The union claim that the government owned carrier has resisted appeals for a negotiated settlement and are testing their case at an Industrial Tribunal. Mr Malik concluded:

“The need for a Collective Bargaining Agreement is urgent. There’s no alternative way for Garuda except to implement the terms of the CBA which have been agreed. We hope that our colleagues worldwide will continue to insist that the Indonesian government takes an active role in ending the uncertain working conditions.”

The pilot’s unrest was caused when the airline leased an increased and updated fleet last year but had insufficient qualified pilots to fly them. When faced with aircraft parked and unused Garuda turned to around forty overseas pilots, allegedly at the higher pay rate, to ensure schedules were met.