Lead Editor Investigations
An injunction granted by the Industrial Court to Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) to order pilots to work after a sickout from August 18-20, has been extended to November.
On August 21 at 1 am, CAL was granted an injunction by the Industrial Court and the pilot’s union, the Trinidad and Tobago Pilots Association (TTALPA) was instructed to direct workers/employees to immediately report to duty.
The injunction was in force until September 28.
At a news conference on August 24, CAL’s chief executive Garvin Medera said the injunction was to put a stop to the inconvenience which the airline faced.
The Guardian understands that the Attorney General’s office has now joined the matter and, as a result, the injunction has been extended until November 10.
Dionne Ligoure, head of Communications at CAL, yesterday made clear that the extension of the injunction was not due to any action on the part of the airline.
For the period August 18-20, 93 pilots at CAL called in sick which caused 60 flights to be cancelled and cost the company an estimated $15 million.
For its part, the pilots’ union has maintained that no industrial action took place.
Meanwhile, TTALPA has written to Francis Regis, the director general of the Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), seeking his guidance on how to deal with pilots who call in sick now that the court has determined that the sickout amounted to industrial action.
The letter said while TTALPA has complied with the injunction, it was deeply concerned for the potential impact to the safety of CAL’s operation and wished to ensure there is no confusion for pilots.
At the news conference, Medera said the company was on a path to profitability after being in survival mode during the COVID period, with a view to publishing financial statements by early 2024, but the sickout action cost it millions in losses and hurt its reputation.
CAL is now sorting out compensation for its customers for the period.
This all happened because CAL and TTALPA are in disagreement over pilots’ new compensation packages. TTALPA represents 200 of CAL’s 217 pilots.
Guardian Media has reported that the airline’s offer of a 7.5 per cent pay increase- 0 per cent, 2.5 per cent, 2.5 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 0 per cent, for the period 2015-2020, coupled with a shift from a monthly to an hourly payment system, was being resisted by the pilots.
In turn, TTALPA’s counter-proposal is 10 per cent, comprising 0 per cent, 3 per cent, 3 per cent, 3 per cent and 1 per cent for the period 2015 to 2020.
CAL has also proposed to transition pilots from a monthly salary system to an hourly rate payment structure across all fleets, coupled with a reduction in the minimum work guarantee from 75 to 60 hours with overtime rates applied after 75 hours.
TTALPA made a reduced counteroffer of 0 per cent, 3 per cent, 3 per cent, 3 per cent and 1 per cent to CAL.