Pay Disparity

Biman pilots threaten to go on strike

Staff Correspondent

15 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Pilots of Biman Bangladesh Airlines have threatened to wage a strong demonstration if the authorities do not addresses their pay inequality with other employees of the national flag carrier.

Bangladesh Airlines Pilots’ Association (BAPA), an organisation of pilots of the state-owned airline, has sent a letter to Biman’s Director of Flight Operations (DFO) in this regard on Monday.

In the letter, BAPA stated that if the decision to cut their salaries was not scrapped by July 30, they would no longer operate Biman flights.

“Biman has withdrawn the decision to cut salaries of all of its employees that was taken to reduce costs during the coronavirus pandemic. But the decision to cut salaries of pilots, the frontliners during the pandemic, was not withdrawn,” said BAPA President Captain Mahbubur Rahman.

The BAPA said since the beginning of the pandemic, the pilots have discharged their duties with utmost sincerity and dedication. “We’ve operated shuttle flights to many destinations. We’ve flown and fulfilled our duties as per the regulatory approved limit, even on a short 36-hour notice. Sadly, there was no recognition at all,” the letter reads.

The pilots’ organisation also said, “Instead of appreciation, we heard that the Biman management, in a recent decision, decided to resume regular salaries of all employees except pilots.”

“The pilot community of Biman is utterly shocked and frustrated after hearing this. As frontliners, we worked relentlessly during the pandemic amidst the fear of contracting Covid-19 and spreading it to our families,” it said.

Captain Mahbubur Rahman said a total of 25 pilots were infected with Covid-19 in the past one year while several infected pilots are still in hospitals.

According to him, families of eight pilots contracted coronavirus and many pilots had no chance to ensure quarantine.

The BAPA president said pilots had to go abroad and get coronavirus tests done with their own money.

It is mentionable that the Biman administration, in an order on Tuesday, withdrew the decision to cut employee salaries, which will come into effect from July.

According to the previous order, it was decided to deduct 10 percent of employees’ salaries on pay scales of 6 to 8, and 15 percent for those who were above the pay scale of 9.

The latest order states that salaries of the cockpit crew (pilots) who are having a service age of within five years will not be cut from July. However, there are only 10 such employees.

On the other hand, those with service age between 5 and 10 years will have their salaries cut by 5 percent from July instead of 20 percent. And those with over 10 years of working experience will have their pay cut by 25 percent instead of 40 percent.

However, the pilots said their pay cut would be 28 percent, excluding the overseas allowance, because of the latest adjustments.

They said the authorities did not even bother to discuss with them before taking such a decision.

According to the pilots, this decision has created inequality in Biman.

They said in most cases, the officers and employees are working from home. But the decision to cut their salaries was reversed.

On the other hand, the salaries of the pilots who left their families and continued the flights taking extreme risk was cut, they said.

Sources at Biman Bangladesh Airlines said if the pilots decide not to fly, flights on the airline’s most popular routes, including Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dammam and Dubai, might be cancelled.