Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Argentina: Pilots Strand Thousands of Passengers, Harsh Reality of Salary Disparity

According to The Associated Press, Argentina's government stepped in to halt a brief pilot's strike that stranded thousands of passengers Tuesday (August 12) in the country's capital of Buenos Aires.

More than thirty international and local flights by state-run Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral were cancelled or delayed, including routes to cities such as Miami, Caracas and Bogotá.

The Labor Ministry then ordered the two sides to accept mediation, and union leaders said operations would soon be back to normal. 

COMMENT: Considering that pay parity for a co-pilot flying for Aerolineas Argentinas (AA) earns only US$2,400 per month is so far behind a four-striper [captain] that earns US$11,000 a month (US$132,000), it seems evident that first officers would be at the poverty level if they had more than four children and had no other income. 

The secretary-general of the Association of Air Line Pilots, Pablo Biro, said the pilots were seeking a 35% pay raise to keep up with inflation and elimination of some taxes.

Aerolineas Argentinas issued a statement calling the strike "untimely, disproportionate and unreasonable" because the pilots' contract extends through the end of September.

"In an act of enormous irresponsibility, this group of workers, privileged with high salaries and luxurious working conditions, not only gravely harm the passengers, but also put at risk the sustained process of recovery of our flag carrier," it said, referring to the company's efforts to climb out of financial difficulties.

The airline said pilots earn gross salaries of up to nearly US$11,000 a month. The union, however, said co-pilots earn less than $2,400 a month.