Thursday, December 08, 2005

Korean Airline Strike

A strike by Korean Air’s pilot union caused havoc for export shipments and inconvenience to passengers, when the carrier grounded some 204 or 53 percent of its scheduled flights.

More trouble looms as some 176 of its 212 domestic flights, 54 of its 157 international flights and 23 of its 30 cargo flights are expected to be cancelled on Friday.

The Labor Ministry remained cautious about exercising an emergency arbitration right that would end the strike immediately, fearing this would give the impression that the government intervenes in labor conflicts too often. That fueled concerns that the walkout could last throughout the weekend or beyond.

Many passengers were angry, saying another rich union of high-salaried pilots was holding the nation to ransom after Asiana Airlines pilots went on a protracted strike at the height of the summer holiday season.

Rumor has it that the hidden reason for the strike is a union demand to restore a number of fired pilots to their jobs, though ostensible it was sparked by a wage dispute. The union is demanding a 6.5 percent pay rise and bonus increase from 750 percent annually to 800 percent, while management is offering a 2.5 percent wage hike.

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