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Air Line Pilots Association disagrees with SIA's cost-cutting measures

THE Air Line Pilots Association, Singapore (Alpa-S) disagrees with the new measures implemented by Singapore Arlines (SIA) on pilots to slash costs, and will be taking the matter up to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in the coming days, the union said in a newsletter to members on Thursday evening.

But the Singapore Airlines Staff Union (SIASU) and the Air-Transport Executive Staff Union (AESU) are understood to be on board with the company. 

SIA will offer a Covid-19 special early-retirement scheme for all ground staff and pilots next week, as announced in a memo to staff seen by The Business Times. Employees aged 50 and above, with at least 15 years of service and up to the level of divisional vice-presidents, are eligible for it.

Alpa-S wrote in the newsletter that it had not been consulted on the special early-retirement scheme before the meeting with the company on Thursday morning. Its representatives had also given their feedback on the "ineffectiveness of the special early-retirement scheme, with the disappointing quantum offered as a result of the payout cap".

But SIA still went ahead with the offer, with the addition of prorated annual wage supplement and owed profit-sharing bonus (0.5 months to be paid in Jan 2021) to the original scheme, wrote Alpa-S.

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In addition, the newsletter noted that SIA had proposed to convert compulsory no-pay leave to full pay cuts. Captains will take a 23 per cent reduction, while first officers and second officers will take a 13 per cent and 10 per cent cuts respectively.

The reason provided for the move from compulsory no-pay leave to pay cuts was to provide greater flexibility for rostering and to ease administration workload, according to Alpa-S.

Alpa-S had, in the meeting, proposed to maintain compulsory no-pay leave to prevent the situation where there is excess staff.

"By reducing the compulsory no-pay leave days, it will introduce more available man-days into the system, resulting in an increase of surplus crew numbers by about 20 per cent," Alpa-S wrote.

The company was unable to provide further information or explain how this excess manpower would be managed, wrote Alpa-S.

"With this disagreement and the lack of information from company, Alpa-S has arranged for an audience with MOM in the coming days. Alpa-S has taken a position that no further pay cuts will be accepted after the goodwill we have given to help the company from the onset," it wrote.

SIA said through its spokesperson late on Thursday that it continues to be in talks with Alpa-S, and that it is seeking MOM’s assistance in these discussions.

The spokesperson added: "The details of these discussions remain confidential until there is an agreement.

"Our immediate priority is to do everything we can to survive this crisis and be ready for the long trudge ahead of us."

Alan Tan, president of the SIASU, which represents cabin crew and ground staff, told BT that it is a plus that the company has not let go of any staff.

Ravi Chandran P, general secretary of the AESU, which represents ground executives, said: “Given what the aviation industry is going through, staff were already aware they had to undergo some pain.”

In addition, he said, ground executives are less impacted as they are “involved in transformation projects”.

“Our members have been understanding, and the union will work with the company to protect their interests,” he added.

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