A Change of Direction

Garuda Pilots and Crew Threaten Strike Action in June if Changes Not Made in the Board of Directors
Kompas.com reports that the President of the Garuda Indonesia Pilot’s Association (APG), Captain Bintang Hardiono has publicly expressed the growing unhappiness among pilots and employees of the Indonesian National Air Carrier that threatens to become a strike action in June 2018 against the Company.,

As explained by Hardiono, in April 2017 a General Shareholders Meeting (AGM) of Garuda decided to eliminate the positions of operations director and technical director, jobs held in the past by qualified pilots.

“There is no director of operations or technical director which means there is no one responsible in the audit process for the Airline Operating Certificate (AOC),” explained Hardiono on Thursday, May 3, 2018.

Garuda’s AOC was due for renewal in June 2017 at the end of a thorough audit process. The auditor called a halt to the audit process due to the lack of a technical director or operational director needed to be responsible for the certification process. Following protests from pilots and airline workers, the CEO of Garuda, Pahala Nugraha Mansury, made an ad hoc appointment of the two directors without obtaining the required approval of shareholders at an Annual General Meeting.

Hardiono blamed the preponderance of bankers with no airline background or expertise on Garuda’s Board of Directors for unpopular decisions to eliminate crew ground transportation that he claims has resulted in road accidents involving crew traveling to and from an airport. He questioned the wisdom of pilots driving themselves after midnight, saying Indonesia lacked the dependable public transport sstem that is readily available abroad.

Bintang also complained about changes in working hours that took place during the 2017 fasting month, the elimination of yearly pay increases, and reduction of flying hours that has resulted in reduced wages for pilots.

Highlighting another complaint, Hardiono mentioned the recent sudden change in the computerized operational system used by the airline. Adding: “There should be a three month transition from the old system to the new system. But the Company insisted on a six-day transition at the same time that Gunung Agung erupted (in Bali). Everything became chaotic as if there were no longer crew or aircraft available, when, in fact, both were available. The system was a mess.” As a result, only Garuda experienced delays across the country as the Airline blamed the delays on Mount Agung.

Continuing, Bintang Hardiono said: “Formerly the number of directors was only 6, and then became 9 including a director of cargo. Meanwhile, employees had their rights cut while the number of Directors ballooned. Directors at the very least were provided with Alphard vehicles.” 

Alphards are luxury vehicles costing nearly Rp. 1 billion each.

Because of the current situation, the APG and the Garuda Indonesia Employees Union are demanding a change of Company Directors who they contend do not understand the aviation business. Bintang said the airline has been given 30 days to change the directors after which, if the demand remains unfulfilled, the pilots and crew will go on strike.

Bintang said the strike was both a protest and a means of advising the public about the current condition of the Indonesian National Carrier.

Underlining his argument that the Airline is in a state of severe disarray, Bintang pointed to the rapid decline in Garuda's share price from a high of Rp. 750 per share to a current price of Rp. 290.

Garuda’s CEO, Pahala, has urged the employees of Garuda to remain focused on their work and not to go on strike. He said he remained confident that the situation at the Airline was improving  and will allow a profit to be posted in 2018.

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