“NO” to the massive firing of pilots, “NO” to corporate bullying


Star Alliance Member Avianca, based in Colombia seems to have a serious problems with their pilots and labor rights. The European Pilots’ Association (ECA) – representing over 38.000 pilots from 37 European countries – firmly condemns the mass firing of pilots and the opening of disciplinary proceedings against pilots of the Colombian Civil Airmen’s Association (“ACDAC”) by the Colombian air operator AVIANCA.  ECA calls on AVIANCA to immediately cease disciplinary proceedings and reinstate the dismissed pilots and calls on the Colombian government to ensure full compliance with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Conventions as well as the OECD Corporate Governance principles.

The company’s goal with its exemplary and disproportionate sanctions is to intimidate the pilot community and thereby prevent any future attempts to defend labour rights. Disciplinary proceedings and dismissals constitute a serious violation of the fundamental rights of Colombian pilots to defend their interests and obtain just and satisfactory working conditions.

The restrictions in Colombia on the pilots’ right to strike are contrary to the international commitments of the Colombian Government as a signatory state to Convention 87 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) which includes the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining and strike action. The ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association has denied that aircrews can be excluded from the scope of this Convention. The opening of disciplinary proceedings and the dismissal of pilots constitutes an illegal and disproportionate restriction of pilots’ rights.

AVIANCA’s attitude against pilots ignores the principles of Corporate Governance of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organization to which Colombia has applied for membership. According to this organization, companies must recognise the interests of their employees to ensure the success of their companies. If Colombia and its companies want to join the OECD, they must demonstrate that they apply the principles of good governance respecting the fundamental rights of ACDA pilots.

For these reasons, ECA conveys to its colleagues in Colombia all its support and solidarity and urges the Colombian government and Avianca to redress the violation of the fundamental rights of its pilots, suspending disciplinary proceedings, readmitting the dismissed pilots and starting as soon as possible new meetings to obtain a decent work agreement.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.