Czech Airlines Pilots Association announces go-slow protest against redundancies to start Monday


The state-controlled carrier ČSA handed out earlier this week a first round of notices to some of its pilots – a step that the airline’s management says is in line with its government-approved restructuring plan. However, the Czech Airlines Pilots Association does not agree with the layoffs, and has announced a go-slow protest to kick off on Monday.

Photo: ČSA
Beginning on Monday, passengers of the Czech Republic’s state-owned carrier, ČSA, might experience delays. The Czech Airlines Pilots Association said it would launch a go-slow protest against the company’s plans to lay off staff.

The head of the pilot’s association, Filip Gaspar, says its members will protest by strictly adhering to rules and regulations specified by the Labour Code.

“It will be a go-slow protest, so we will strictly adhere to all our duties as employees, but we will only work the hours that we are legally required to and take advantage of all the breaks and rights that we are entitled to according to the Labour Code.”

Filip Gaspar,  photo: CTK
The layoffs are part of the carrier’s restructuring plan, approved by the Czech government in May of last year. The airline handed out the first round of notices on Wednesday; the plan involves an extensive set of measures to make the company profitable by 2012. Hana Hejsková is the carrier’s spokesperson.

“Czech Airlines sees no reason for the protest. The changes that are being made in the airline are absolutely in line with the restructuring plan, which was approved by the government and confirmed again by the supervisory board yesterday and also the finance minister himself. The plan is now two thirds complete and logically, changes are reflected in the area of human resources and concern all professions across the company, including in-flight staff.”

According to Mr. Gaspar, however, redundancies were not supposed to take place until after the restructuring process of the carrier is completed, some 18 months from now.

“The main reason is the fact that the management has been breaking a number of agreements, the Czech Labour Code and other regulations. The straw that broke the camel’s back is that they have not followed the restructuring plan as was agreed upon, which we, the Czech Airlines Pilots Association, supported last year. Right now, management is getting ready to go beyond what was discussed, and we believe it will damage the company.”

But Hana Hejsková says the management of Czech Airlines has been communicating intensively with its employees. Another round of negotiations is not planned ahead of the announced start of the protest on Monday, yet Czech Airlines officials doubt the pilots will go ahead with it. Staff cuts are unavoidable and the carrier is not prepared to go back on its decision, she says.

Illustrative photo
“It is really necessary to carry on in the course that we have set out. It is not possible to blackmail the airline with pressure tactics because of the personal interests of individuals and thereby threaten the course of the restructuring, taking passengers as hostages.”

According to Mr. Gaspar, pilots routinely get to work early and skip breaks to prevent flight delays. He has announced that the slow-go protest will go into effect immediately after midnight on Monday.