The strike by pilots and flight engineers of All Nippon Airways Co. over the lowering of their salaries — which management felt were too high — reached 11 days April 16, causing the cancellation of six more international flights.
The strike is costing the airline about 200 million yen per day, an ANA spokesman claimed, and there is no foreseeable end to it. A total of 1,200 passengers were forced to switch flights or use competing carriers April 16, the spokesman said. The canceled international flights were among 46 scheduled for ANA on the same day.
The labor union for the crew of the country’s second-largest air carrier said it can accept pay cuts but demands a reasonable explanation for them and transparency regarding the firm’s financial conditions.
Management and the union remain sharply divided over the wage system introduced April 1 as part of restructuring efforts. The strike by the All Nippon Airway’s Crew Association — a labor union formed by pilots, copilots and flight engineers — has affected about 12,000 international flight passengers and cost the carrier some 2 billion yen through Wednesday, according to the spokesman.
The ongoing deregulation and alignment in the global aviation industry are pushing Japanese carriers, which have substantial aviation-related and personnel costs, to make reductions in an effort to compete against foreign carriers. “The environment of the aviation industry is changing considerably. The economy remains stagnant and competition is intensifying. So we proposed to launch a new wage system,” ANA President Kichisaburo Nomura told a regular news conference last week.
The new wage system aims to make crew pay correspond with actual flight hours, replacing a wage program that took effect in 1962 that gave a flat 65-flight hour allowance regardless of actual hours flown.
Management contends that a crew averages about 50 flight hours per month and that the new wage system, which was first proposed in 1995, is estimated to save the carrier 1 billion yen per year in personnel costs.
The wages of Japanese pilots have been criticized as being too high compared with those of pilots in other countries, and some regard Japanese pilots as enjoying a privileged status. Typically, a 45-year-old ANA pilot earned more than 24 million yen a year in 1994, which one estimate shows was 1.5 times higher than the income of Western pilots.
The labor union maintains that if working conditions are considered, pilot wages are not particularly high, even by international standards. “Our salaries are higher than those of average workers, but we don’t think that our salaries are too high. If our actual working conditions are calculated in accordance with the Western system, our pay is even lower than that of Western pilots. If management adopts the global standard, we would welcome it,” union spokesman Youichi Tanaka said.
The union expressed distrust of management for the forcible way in which it broke its labor agreement and launched the new wage system, saying union members are not opposing a decrease in income. “The biggest reason for the strike is that management broke an agreement with us one-sidedly … We are not opposing a reduction in our incomes. If they are cut, we need a reasonable explanation of the firm’s management policy,” Tanaka said.
The union contends that management should disclose information regarding its financial situation and on unprofitable affiliated companies.
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