KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 20, CMC – The Jamaican Airline Pilots’ Association (JALPA) says it is seeking a meeting with officials of the Trinidad-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL), after the airline announced plans to make all pilots represented by the union redundant from next month.
In a statement, the Kingston-based pilots have been advised by representatives of CAL and their subsidiary CARIBAL Ltd that their positions would be made redundant in May 2012.
Of the 75 JALPA members, 64 are currently employed to CAL, which also operates Air Jamaica, following its acquisition by the Trinidad and Tobago government in 2009.
In 2010, Port of Spain and Kingston agreed to a deal that allowed the Jamaica government to own 16 per cent of CAL as part of the conditions for the CAL taking over the lucrative routes of Air Jamaica.
The deal also allows for Trinidad and Tobago agreeing to a US$300 million transition plan for CAL to acquire and operate six Air Jamaica aircraft and eight of its routes.
Last month, CAL announced that it would be laying off Jamaica-based employees from May 1 as it outsources its airport customer service operations.
CAL said then it had made several changes and adjustments to its operations in Jamaica to find the right mix of operational efficiency.
It said where feasible, it would assist affected employees in obtaining alternative employment and separation packages would be offered in accordance with industrial practice.
“Since the integration of the Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines brands, the airline continues to streamline its processes to ensure it continues to improve cost efficiency in line with strategic objectives,” said CAL’s chief executive officer, Robert Corbie.
CAL in its latest statement gave no further details on the dismissal of the pilots, but the Jamaica Observer newspaper said it had obtained a letter the airline’s vice-president of human resources, Charmaine Heslop-DaCosta to JALPA, indicating that all pilots other than those employed to CARIBAL are represented by Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots’ Association (TTALPA).
“As you are aware, all pilots, as defined in your claim, other than those employed to CARIBAL, are represented by TTALPA as demonstrated by certificate of recognition from the Recognition Board in Trinidad and Tobago as the trade union for the pilots employed by CAL dated 30th November 2009,” the letter said.
It said that negotiations between CAL and TTALPA have already started and on completion will establish the terms and conditions of employment of all pilots employed by the airline, noting “this can be categorised as union busting in order to break up JALPA as the trade union representing Jamaican pilots”.
He said neither Jamaican nor Trinidad and Tobago laws allow for local pilots employed by CAL to be represented by a Trinidad-based association.
“What CAL is seeking to do is to make these pilots (positions) redundant and offer them new terms and conditions for which they have to attend interviews to determine who will be rehired,” he said, adding that the JALPA members are resisting this as they believe the transition should be seamless.
“CARIBAL being a subsidiary must be knowledgeable and cognisant of the performances of all these pilots, and so there should be no reason they should undergo another interview for employment,” Gayle said.
“It is unfair that they should undergo this type of treatment,” he said, adding JALPA has requested a meeting with CAL’s management to discuss the matter.