Arkia Airlines and Its Pilots at an Impasse in Labor Talks

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An Arkia Airlines airplane. Credit: Courtesy

Labor unrest among pilots at Arkia Israeli Airlines is intensifying.  There are currently no steps planned that would directly affect passengers of the carrier, which flies to Eilat as well as to overseas destinations, but there is concern about possible disruptions over the Shavuot holiday, which runs from Tuesday evening through Wednesday, if the sanctions are stepped up.

A meeting on Thursday between the management of Arkia and representatives of the carrier’s pilots ended without progress after the pilots declared a labor dispute more than two weeks ago. No date has been set for another negotiating session.

By law, after the two-week waiting period, the pilots are now free to carry out labor action. Arkia management issued a statement saying that the carrier is “convinced” that the pilots would not disrupt the airlines’ operations and that matters will be settled through dialogue.

The pilots declared the work dispute via the Histadrut labor federation, claiming that over the past year management has taken a series of steps that have harmed their working conditions and also negatively affected their compensation. The dispute comes despite the fact that just a year-and-a-half ago, the pilots signed a new labor pact that includes salary provisions. It provided jet pilots with a salary increase based on certain seniority criteria.

In a dispute that also relates to hours flown on flights to Eilat, the pilots claim that the airline is promoting younger pilots flying the jets over pilots who have been with the airline longer but have flown older aircraft.  The pilots also claim that the airline is not abiding by its commitments from April of this year in settlement of a prior labor dispute.

The pilots have decided not to take any action that would harm the airline’s passengers, but on Sunday three of four pilots failed to show up for a training course, as a result of a disagreement over the promotion track for pilots. In response, management has cancelled the course.

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