Fears of sickout after CAL talks collapse

(Trinidad Express) Talks between Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and the Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots Association (TTALPA) have broken down and it’s pos­sible there may be sick-out action by pilots over the long Eas­ter weekend.
TTALPA industrial relations consultant Gerard Pinard told the Express in a telephone interview that pilots are considered essential and are precluded from taking any industrial action. “There certainly would not be any TTALPA-sanctioned action, but that does not mean that indi­vidual pilots are not getting irri­ta­ted and aggravated with this situ­ation with CAL,” said Pinard.
Sources told the Express some pilots were totally fed up with the situation and calling in sick may not be ruled out. There was a meeting between TTALPA and CAL on Tuesday which was disastrous as there was no outcome reached and TTALPA issued a statement to its members, informing them the talks have broken down. In the memo, dated March 31, 2015, TTALPA noted the breakdown of negotiations between CAL and TTALPA, for the period 2010 to 2013, has been referred to the Industrial Court by the Ministry of Labour as an unresolved trade dispute.
It explained in an effort to reduce the areas of disagreement between CAL and TTALPA, both parties agreed to informal conciliation proceedings under the auspices of the Labour Ministry. “Our efforts at negotiating our collective agreement during these infor­mal conciliation meetings at the Ministry of Labour have regrettably broken down,” stated TTALPA. It informed it requested that CAL provide clarification on information a foreign-contracted B737 aircraft, and crew, with a work permit issued on March 6, was allowed to fly on a CAL route on February 22, in possible contravention of local laws.
TTALPA also requested the names and copies of the contracts of new hires on the ATR fleet, which services the airbridge between Trinidad and Tobago. “We also made it clear to CAL that it was wholly unacceptable for the company to be engaging pilots on terms and conditions that were not negotiated on their behalf by TTALPA, as the recognised majority union for pilots,” stated the association. “By going behind our backs and employing ‘scab labour’, we submitted that they were engaging in ‘union-busting’ tactics,” it added. Pinard confirmed the contents of the memo and said CAL’s position at the meeting was not serious and certainly not in good faith. He said the matter is before the Industrial Court and parties have a deadline of April 17 by which to make any submissions. He said CAL has been enga­ging contract pilots and first officers, in an attempt to deal with heavy flight schedules.
Pinard said TTALPA strongly objects to this as CAL is not supposed to be going out there and independently negotiating with pilots. He said TTALPA is negotiating for the period 2010 to 2013, and some 163 CAL pilots have been operating on 2010 fixed salaries. He said last week, there was a meeting with Minister of Trade Vasant Bharath, who was manda­ted by the Prime Minister to deal specifically with outstanding variable incentive pay (VIP), which amounts to some $35 million and remains outstanding and unpaid to the pilots over the past few years. The minister, he said, requested a few days, after which he will get back to them. Pinard said Bharath also indica­ted he cannot get involved in their salary issues. Efforts to contact CAL chairman Philip Marshall yesterday proved futile.

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