Pay disparity: Biman pilots threaten to go on strike
Biman Bangladesh Airlines pilots have vowed to lead a bolder protest as the national airline’s authorities issued an order without addressing the pay gap between its pilots and other employees.
Bangladesh Airlines Pilots’ Association (BAPA), an organization of national airliner pilots, sent a letter to Biman’s Director of Flight Operations (DFO) setting a deadline – July 30 – to respond to their request and end wage disparities.
Speaking to the Daily Star, BAPA chairman Captain Mahbubur Rahman said he delivered the letter on Monday.
In the letter, BAPA said if the decision to cut their wages was not overturned by July 30, they would no longer operate Biman flights.
Sources in Biman Bangladesh said if the pilots decide not to fly, flights on the airline’s most popular routes, including Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dammam and Dubai, could be canceled.
Captain Mahbubur said the decision to cut salaries for all Biman employees, in order to cut costs during the pandemic, has been withdrawn. “But the decision to cut wages for pilots – the front lines during the pandemic – has not been withdrawn,” he said.
In the letter, BAPA said that since the start of this pandemic, pilots have performed their duties with the utmost sincerity and dedication.
“We have flown shuttle flights to many destinations. We have flown and performed our duties within the approved regulatory limit, even on short notice of 36 hours. Unfortunately, there was no reconnaissance at all,” BAPA said in its letter.
The pilots’ organization also said: “Instead of being grateful, we heard that the management of Biman, in a recent decision, decided to resume the regular salaries of all employees except the pilots. .
“The Biman pilot community is totally shocked and frustrated after hearing this. As the front line we have worked tirelessly during the pandemic amid the fear of contracting Covid-19 and spreading it to our families,” reads -on in the letter.
BAPA said: “To continue our support for the national airline and given the overall scenario, the BAPA executive committee would like to grant concessions for the flight in accordance with regulatory approval initially until July 30.”
The president of BAPA said that in the past year 25 pilots have been infected with Covid-19. Several pilots are still in the hospital with the Covid-19.
He said families of eight pilots have contracted coronavirus. Many pilots have not even had the chance to ensure quarantine.
Captain Mahbubur Rahman said pilots must travel overseas and do coronavirus tests with their own money. But even then, the airline did not withdraw its decision to cut their wages.
As a result of this discriminatory decision, the monthly salary of a senior pilot was reduced to Tk 5 lakh, he noted.
“BAPA’s executive committee will meet today to finalize its next action plan regarding its protest against the discriminatory ruling,” he also said.
The Biman administration, in an ordinance, yesterday withdrew the decision to cut employee wages, which will take effect from July.
According to the previous ordinance, it was decided to deduct 10 percent of the salaries of employees on pay scales 6 to 8, and 15 percent for those who were above pay scale 9.
According to the same administrative order, cabin crews (pilots) with a service age of 5 years will receive a reduced salary of 15%, those with a service age between 5 and 10 years will receive a reduced salary of 20%, and those over 10 years of age will receive 40 percent reduced pay. The pay cuts for pilots will continue, according to the new order.
“It is an injustice, discrimination and humiliation for us,” said Captain Shoaib Chowdhury, a senior pilot from Biman.
Expressing their grievance, the Biman Bangladesh pilots said the authorities did not even bother to discuss with them before making such an important decision.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr. Mahbub Ali, recently told the media that due to the reduction in his salary, a senior pilot now gets 3.48 lakh Tk, compared to 8.61 lakh Tk before the pandemic.