Since a strike by Avianca pilots left the Colombian airline scrambling, the nation’s Civil Aviation department ruled on new measures permitting foreign pilots to operate for the airline for the next three months.
Members of the Associated Pilots of the Colombian Association of Aviators Civilians have been on strike since Sept. 20 and are demanding salary and benefits changes they say will put them on par with the airline’s pilots in other countries.
The union reacted with indignation at the news, with cries of foul play at the national aviation's strategic move.
“We regret this measure that obviously does not take the provisions of laws and regulations into account, such as the Substantive Labor Code prohibiting the replacement of workers who are on strike, as well as the Aeronautical Regulations and the Commercial Code that restricts operating with foreign pilots,” Acdac said in a statement.
“With this decision, once again the Colombian state is on the side of the company that violates labor rights and not on the side of the rights of workers. With this resolution the Aerocivil is changing the RAC (aviation laws) in order to protect capital," the union said.
"We are most interested in reaching a prompt and good agreement. We continue to await the negotiators of the company, while we advance all the legal and administrative procedures to attend Wednesday's meeting in the Superior Court of Bogota on the declaration of the legality of our strike,” Acdac said in its latest press release.
According to Jaime Hernandez, the union’s president, the strike was launched due to a violation of their human rights to strike by the Avianca administration, which allows workers 60 days to strike by law.
The strike has affected more than 300,000 passengers and approximately 3,000 flights have been canceled as a result.Reports from Avianca confirm that operations to remedy the situation are underway, while the union says it plans to continue the strike with greater resolve.
Aviation authorities stated that each cockpit must include one Colombian pilot along with a foreign pilot. The foreign aviator must speak either Spanish or certified English and can only fly out of international airports. Additional requirements include the non-Colombian pilot must be certified and licensed in Colombian flight regulations, only native aviators will be permitted to land in difficult airports which generally require special training, and foreign pilots will not receive contracts which exceed 10 percent of the airline’s payroll.
Diaz stated that the Aerocivil’s ruling is valid for the time being, as the court has not recognized the pilots' strike as legitimate.