Philipsburg- On St. Maarten there is unrest among Winair pilots about a prolonged 25% salary cut, which Management of the Company states will be applied about 18 – 24 months longer.
The union representing the Winair pilots, WICSU/PSU, has called an urgent meeting to discuss the issue. According to WICSU/PSU president Sharon Cangieter, the way Management of the airline has gone about the cut is unacceptable.
“When Management implemented the sudden 25% cut back in 2020 and in the midst of the Pademic, the pilots were not pleased”, explained Cangieter. Cangieter said that it should be generally known that once a CLA is in place, employers cannot just take unilateral decisions and any amendments to conditions would have to be discussed and agreed upon, but Management did just that. Cannegieter also indicated that, while not pleased, the pilots had continued their duties, as they themselves could see there was hardly any business.
In a meeting earlier this week however, Management gave a presentation and told the employees, including the pilots, that the cut in salary would continue for another 18 to 24 months more. “Based on what law Winair thinks they can implement this, we do not know”, said Cangieter, sarcastically adding that it must be under “Winair-law”.
Cangieter also stated that she had in the name of the union, in the meantime, reached out to Government as Government is the shareholder of Winair. “In that sense it is a semi-public Company”, Cangieter said. However, in spite of reaching out to both the minister of TEATT and Labor, the union did not receive a satisfactory response. Earlier discussions, among others with the Government Mediator, had not proven fruitful.
Cangieter also explained that the situation of the pilots could not be compared at will with just any job in the Company. “First of all this is not an easy job. But these pilots, all of them, have paid for their own training. Sometimes in the amount of 80.000 to 100.000 dollars, and they have to keep current on their training. If you now cut a part of their salary, how will they continue to pay that?”, asked the union leader.
Over the past days many of the pilots have called in sick. Cangieter said that while this was not the ideal thing to do, pilots also needed to be well rested and not stressed out when flying airplanes. “This is exactly why we, as responsible union, have called for this urgent meeting to start dealing with this issue and to see how we can get it resolved”.