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Garuda Pilots Threaten Strike Action

Disaffection with Higher Salaries Paid to Contract Foreign Pilots Have Garuda Indonesia Pilots Threatening to Go on Strike.

(7/17/2011) The Indonesian national air carrier Garuda is threatened with a strike by its Pilot Association who are demanding pay parity with foreign pilots employed on contract by the air carrier.

The Garuda Pilots Association (APG), told the Jakarta Globe of its their dwindling patience and their employer’s refusal to dignify their demands with a formal response. Jeffrey Ticoalu, from the Union’s industrial division, complained that attempts to meet with senior management of the Airline since April have been unsuccessful, despite repeated written requests. When the promise of a meeting with the Executive Director of the airline was finally agreed for June 28, 2011, the meeting was headed by a less senior member of Garuda's management - the Operational Director, who told the pilots he had no power to make a decision in the wage parity demand.

At the center of the controversy is dissatisfaction by the members of APG over wage disparity with foreign pilots who are paid almost twice as much as national pilots flying the same routes and aircraft.

Isaays U. Sampesule of the APG said: 

“A foreign first officer receives as much as $7,200 (a month), which includes accommodation benefits; a captain receives $10,200 including benefits. Compare this to the salary of a (local) first officer, which is Rp. 43 million ($5,030).”

Sampeule added that after working 15 to 20 years to become captains: 

“It often happens that our captains have to fly with foreign first officers on a higher salary. The captain bears all the risks and responsibilities, he is the one who makes the final call, but yet he is paid less. This is not logical.”

According to the APG, Garuda employs 40 foreign pilots among its current roster of 850-900 pilots.

A Two-Week Deadline

A lawyer representing APG, Said Damanik, confirmed to the press that the airline has been given two week to meet the pilot’s demand for equal treatment, warning, 

“if they fail, then we will take further steps according to the industrial law.”

It is unclear if this deadline meand the APG is prepared to go on strike when the two-week period expires.

Garuda’s CEO, Emirsyah Satar, defended the wage structure, pointing out that foreign pilots are employed on contract basis and, as such, do not receive insurance, pensions and other benefits provided to Indonesian pilots.