Mon, 10 Feb 2003

Garuda's management reports pilots to police

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The pay dispute between Garuda Indonesia and its pilots has deepened following the company's stunning decision on Sunday to report the pilots to police.

The management arrived at National Police Headquarters, calling for an investigation into a possible violation of the law by the pilots in their plan to strike on Tuesday.

Garuda spokesman Pujobroto said the airline had a wide range of operations, which could be disrupted by strikes.

"We requested legal protection from police to avoid a larger negative impact, considering that we have about 130 daily flights, serving the needs of public transportation and logistic shipments," he said.

The largest state-owned airline serves a total of 21 domestic routes and 25 international routes.

The pilots initially planned to strike late last month but Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Jacob Nuwa Wea vowed to mediate and the pilots returned to the negotiation table.

But, several days ago, the pilots left talks, warning of their plan to launch a full strike on Tuesday.

However, Garuda Pilot Association president Ari Sapari told a radio station on Sunday that they would not strike but only launch industrial action to delay flights.

Pujobroto said that in the last phase of negotiations, the management agreed to pay the pilots and co-pilots at an amount slightly lower than their demands but the pilots stuck to their demands.

According to a press statement from Garuda, the pilots demanded co-pilots be paid between Rp 6.9 million (US$775) and Rp 11.9 million per month and pilots between Rp 13.8 million and Rp 24.1 million per month. Meanwhile, the management offered between Rp 6.5 million and Rp 11.3 million per month for co-pilots and between Rp 13.1 million and Rp 22.7 million per month for pilots.

Co-pilots are currently paid between Rp 3.9 million and Rp 17.2 million per month and pilots between Rp 5.5 million and Rp 22.5 million per month.

Pujobroto said management refused to fully meet the pilots's demands because it would create a bigger salary gap between pilots and the rest of the employees.

"Their demands would simply create disharmony, which we cannot allow to happen in our working environment," he said.

Garuda Indonesia has recently recovered from financial crisis and last year managed to post a Rp 417 billion profit.

However, it still has $880 million in total debt, payable from 2003 through till 2010.