Caribbean Airlines pilot sickout gets union support

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday July 4, 2014, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots Association (TTALPA) Thursday said it understood the frustration of its members after several pilots earlier this week staged a sick out severely disrupting the domestic and international flights of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL).

In a statement, TTALPA said it wanted to provide and explanation to the travelling public concerning the events on July 1, where according to CAL approximately 47 pilots called in sick.

“CAL has stated its position and we will respond in kind,” the TTALPA said.

CAL Chief executive officer, Michael DeLollo, in an internal memo to staff described the sick out as “unprecedented occurrence’ adding “this unfortunate situation has disrupted our scheduled services at the beginning of our critical summer season, during which we count most on our operational crews to demonstrate reliability and service for our loyal customers.”

The airline said that while it is in communication with the TTALPA it “is disappointed with the action of the pilots.

“However, Caribbean Airlines will continue to urge further open and frank discussion in good faith with TTALPA while exploring all options available.”

DiLollo said the airline was also concerned about the potential negative impact of the disruptions to its passengers.

But TTALPA said while as the recognized majority union, it cannot sanction industrial action, “we understand fully the frustration of our individual members.

“This we have pointed out to CAL numerous times over the years and to all levels of the organization. TTALPA has never demanded anything of CAL and has utilized a non-confrontational approach through dialogue, which over the years has been rewarded with broken promises and worst of all, procrastination.”

The union accused CAL of choosing to “avoid the fact that their inaction is the major cause in these events and lay the blame solely at the feet of the pilots.

“TTALPA will continue to support its members,” it said, adding “despite their claims, over the last few years, CAL has not been dealing with us in good faith which has caused us to register our issues with the Ministry of Labour as Trade Disputes.

“However, the pilots continued to exercise extreme patience and professionalism. As of Wednesday 02 July 2014, we have been able to reach partial agreement on some of the more serious issues with further meetings scheduled during this month,” TTALPA added.

It said it wanted to assure the travelling public that “we will continue to deal with CAL’s management transparently and in good faith.

“It is our expectation that CAL will honour its recent commitments. Our members would continue to display the levels of service, professionalism and adherence to safety that has become synonymous with CAL’s pilots and that you have been experiencing over the years. We move forward with a renewed faith and commitment.”