Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1296, (19 - 25 May 2016)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1296, (19 - 25 May 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Back in the sky

EgyptAir pilots have ended their strike after their demands were met, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

EgyptAir pilots ended their four-day strike on 15 May, after company officials promised to raise their salaries by the beginning of July. The raise will range from 20 to 22 per cent depending on the number of a pilot’s flying hours.

Khaled Rifaat, former Pilots Syndicate chief, said that several meetings were held between the national airline’s board and syndicate representatives in an attempt to settle the crisis.

“EgyptAir will start updating its internal regulations chart to meet pilots’ demands,” Rifaat said.

EgyptAir pilots started a work slowdown on 12 May, protesting against their salaries and demanding a speedy raise. The slowdown was not, however, a strike, according to a pilot who spoke to Al-Ahram Weekly on condition of anonymity. “A slowdown means that we will not officially stop work but will give legal excuses like sick leaves and urgent vacations to avoid any legal accountability.”

Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi told reporters that 90 per cent of flights were back on schedule. “The incident was handled in cooperation with the company,” Fathi said.

The minister added that the company affirmed that no one would gain anything by pressuring it and that it already had a plan to raise salaries.

Rifaat said salaries at EgyptAir, compared with other private and international companies, are very low. “Unlike what is being reported in the media, the salaries are not as high as people think,” said Rifaat, who added the pilots had used the slowdown to raise their salaries.

The strike led to the delay of several international and domestic flights, including flights to New York, Istanbul, Beirut, Amsterdam, Malpensa Airport in Milan, Kuwait, Berlin and Doha. In all, 40 flights were either cancelled or delayed from between one to three hours. Amr Nasr, head of the Pilots Syndicate, said the syndicate has been updated on the issue and has called on all parties to negotiate to reach a suitable solution as soon as possible.

Nasr said deals have been reached with the pilots to raise their salaries by 40 per cent in two installments over the next two years. An initial raise of 22 per cent will be implemented this July, followed by an 18 per cent raise in July 2017.

“EgyptAir Company has agreed to raise the salaries and bonuses of all of the company’s staff, including those employed by associated companies, by 15 per cent at the beginning of the new fiscal year,” said Nasr.

“This is in alignment with our policy of equality and fair treatment for all workers,” he said. Pilots and other staff at EgyptAir have held industrial action several times in recent years, as the national carrier and the aviation industry in general continue to suffer due to political unrest, terrorism and the loss of tourism revenue.

EgyptAir has incurred losses of over LE11 million since air traffic decreased dramatically following the decline in the tourism industry since the 2011 revolution.

The recent strike was not without precedent. In May 2015, 224 pilots threatened to resign over company rules that said pilots could fly for up to 14 hours per day, a rule that pilots said was illegal. In June 2013, EgyptAir pilots went on strike to demand pay raises and more benefits. The strike led to the delay of around 20 flights. In September 2012, EgyptAir cabin crew went on strike to demand better working conditions.

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