General secretary of the Aviation and Communication Allied Workers’ Union (ACAWU) Peter Farmer said there has been some positive as negotiations continue with Caribbean Airlines on the restructuring of the company.
However, they have hit a snag as it relates to the CAL’s proposal surrounding the cabin crew, as CAL has offered the workers the option to continue to stay at home until November minus pay, or volunteer for retrenchment.
ACAWU represents several hundred workers from cabin crew and pursers to ground staff and other levels and in interview with GML, Farmer said “Originally, CAL determined that with reduction of fleet numbers and reduction of schedule, there must necessarily be a change in manpower requirements. However, ACAWU’s first priority was that of job preservation. CAL is now on record as saying that pertaining to jobs within ACAWU’s bargaining unit, it’s unlikely that permanent staff (including cabin crew) will be affected in terms of retrenchment.
Farmer said CAL’s management has given two positions, for example, with cabin crew.
He told the media house that option one involves employees continuing to stay at home without pay for a further three months, bringing their period of unemployment to a total of 12 months without pay.
The second option involves employees being given the choice of volunteering for retrenchment and being paid in accordance with the Retrenchment Act.
But Farmer said these proposals ‘cannot fly’.
He said, “Retrenchment is a prerogative of the employer, thus, the decision is not that of the employee and retrenchment cannot be viewed as a voluntary separation offer.”
“Workers have been home since October 2020 without pay. They made the sacrifice, expecting borders would reopen and they’d return to work. ACAWU can’t accept retrenchment, VSEP packages should have at least been offered.”
ACAWU has proposed a system of crew rotation with subsistence allowance for off-line periods as CAL in its operational projections doesn’t expect to operate at pre-COVID levels until the second quarter 2022.
CAL is seeking to retrench 450 staff members, however, the company has assured that it is ready for the July 17 border re-opening operations with international and domestic airbridge flights scheduled.