View Full Version : SIA pilots threaten industrial action (merged)

13th Aug 2002, 23:41
Came across this report in the Singapore Straits Times this evening.

What is the practise in other airlines with regards to crew rest on board?




SIA pilots threaten to take industrial action

Manpower Ministry mediating in dispute over pilots' unhappiness at being told to rest in economy, not business class seats

By Dominic Nathan

SINGAPORE Airlines pilots, unhappy over having to take their in-flight rest breaks in economy class seats, are threatening industrial action for the first time in over 20 years.

Last-minute negotiations are still going on to resolve the dispute, which erupted when pilots were told that with the new Spacebed seats installed in the airline's business class, there would be fewer seats available.

As a result, they would have to take their breaks in economy class if there were no empty business class seats.

Pilots view this as a breach of the collective agreement, which they say entitles them to rest in business class or something similar.

Those interviewed said that flight safety could be affected if they did not get the rest needed, and being 'exposed' in economy class might also pose a security risk.

Some argued that it would tarnish the airline's image to have its pilots seen to be nodding off in economy class.

Several rounds of talks between the airline and pilots have so far failed to resolve the issue.

In a July 31 circular, the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore (Alpa-S), which represents about 90 per cent of SIA's 1,600 pilots, informed members that it would hold an extraordinary general meeting on Friday to consider three resolutions.

Two of them condemn SIA's decision on the seating issue and also its move to terminate the services of the two pilots at the controls of Flight SQ 006,which crashed in Taipei two years ago, killing 83 people.

The third resolution calls for a secret vote on taking industrial action.
The threatened action includes 'withdrawal of goodwill' to management, which means, for example, that pilots will not attend any non-essential meetings on their days off.

They will also vote on taking 'work-to-rule' action, requiring minimum notice for any changes to their roster or duties.

This may disrupt SIA's flight operations.

If the motion is passed, it will be the first time since 1980 that SIA
pilots have resorted to industrial action.

Then, an unofficial work-to-rule was in force after negotiations over claims for higher salaries and benefits broke down. It took the personal involvement of the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to finally settle the matter.

This time, the problem stems from differing interpretations of the
collective agreement, which dates back to 1988.
In May, SIA notified pilots that because of the new and bigger Spacebed seats, which transform into beds, long-haul flights in the business-class of a Boeing 747, for example, will have 50 seats instead of 58.

This reduction made it necessary to fill every available seat with paying customers, SIA had said earlier.

The airline maintains that the move does not violate the collective
agreement since there are separate bunks for crew members to sleep in, and the seat in economy class is only for pilots to relax or have a meal outside the flight deck.

The new arrangements were to have come into effect on June 7, but implementation was delayed till Aug 1.

Yesterday, both SIA and Alpa-S officials declined to comment, but both sides have been talking to the Manpower Ministry.
A ministry spokesman said it was 'providing mediation services to help both parties resolve their differences amicably'.

The Straits Times understands the ministry tried to get SIA to delay implementing the new ruling for yet another month, and for Alpa-S to put off the meeting on Friday.

But there is a hitch, as all the business class seats on some of the
affected flights have already been sold.

A last-minute settlement is still possible, and SIA is likely to release a circular to pilots today spelling out its position on the issues.

This evening's Singapore Straits Times gives
Update on the above :

SIA tried reaching out to pilots
By Ahmad Osman
Straits Times 16/8/2002

With vote on industrial action set for today, airline circular reveals offer to compensate pilots over rest seats

SINGAPORE Airlines told its pilots that it was not using 'brute force' to get them to take their in-flight breaks in economy-class seats instead of business class.

It even offered to compensate pilots who would have to take their meals or rest in economy class when there were no seats available in the first and business class.

But the offer had been rejected by the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore, or Alpa-S, said SIA's senior vice-president for flight operations, Major General (NS) Raymund Ng. He said this in a circular to the airline's 1,600 pilots, dated Aug 13.

A copy of the three-page document was obtained by The Straits Times yesterday.
In it, Maj-Gen Ng explains that the new seating arrangement does not violate the collective agreement between the association and the airline.

He said: 'Even though we honestly believed that we were in compliance with the agreement and could not agree with their position, we were, nevertheless, prepared to discuss the matter further without prejudice to each other's position.'

He also explained why SIA terminated the services of the two pilots at the controls of Flight SQ 006, which crashed in Taipei two years ago, killing 83 people.

A proposed resolution condemning that decision is at the top of the agenda of an extraordinary general meeting which will be held by Alpa-S today.

They will also decide if there should be a secret ballot on taking industrial action over what Alpa-S interprets as management's unilateral move to alter the terms of the collective agreement.

The threatened action includes requiring minimum notice for any changes to pilots' roster or duties, a move which could disrupt flights.

At the centre of the dispute are the new Spacebed seats, which can be converted into beds. Because they are bigger, there are fewer seats available in business class and the airline wants to fill them with paying customers.

In his circular, Maj-Gen Ng recounted in detail the various proposals made since February this year, including an offer to pay the pilots some compensation when they had to sit in economy classs.

He also attempted to correct what he described as 'any misleading impression' that may have been created of the negotiations in the last few months.

For example, he said, the pilots were first informed of the seating changes in February, while Alpa-S had earlier maintained in its own circular to members that it received notice of SIA's decision only in May.

Despite exchanges of letters and several meetings no agreement could be reached as the Aug 1 deadline for implementing the new arrangement approached, he said.

SIA then offered to postpone the new scheme by another month, but the association rejected this, said Maj-Gen Ng.

He added: 'I hope that my clarification will put to rest any misleading impression that may have been created.'

Contacted yesterday, an Alpa-S spokesman said the SIA circular contained inaccuracies and 'was an act of bad faith', for it was released after the Manpower Ministry had started conciliation efforts to settle the dispute.

He said: 'We had yesterday registered our protest with the ministry and reserve our right of response.'


14th Aug 2002, 00:16
>>What is the practise in other airlines with regards to crew rest on board? <<

In the U.S., it's a red flag issue with the major airlines, not so big with the freight dogs.

A Delta crew diverted to Portland, Oregon in 1999 on a ATL-NRT flight due to inadequate crew rest facilities on an MD-11. Most airline contracts mandate at least a business class seat for crew rest or scheduled deadhead travel. At the other end of the spectrum, cargo pilots sometimes deadhead for hours in a cockpit jumpseat on duty.

Here's an account of the Delta divert to PDX:

Delta pilots say new sleeping quarters are a nightmare
By Russ Bynum, Associated Press writer

ATLANTA -- A Delta Air Lines pilot cut short an Atlanta-to-Tokyo flight this month, saying the plane's redesigned sleeping quarters for his crew were so cramped and noisy that they'd never get enough rest to complete the flight safely.
The incident, involving 30-year veteran Capt. Roscoe McMillan, was the culmination of a months-long fight between pilots and Delta, which had shrunk the sleeping space on some long-haul planes to make more room for higher-paying business class passengers.

Pilots call the tube-like bunks "the coffin." Their union, the Air Line Pilots Association, has filed a grievance with the company.
"It's small. It lacks adequate privacy considerations and it's in a noisy area where the activities of the cabin and the cockpit make it difficult, if not impossible, to get sleep," said Capt. Andy Deane, spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association. "Simply being horizontal is not enough."
Delta says the bunks are safe and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The airline has questioned McMillan and his three-member crew and the pilots' union fears he could be fired if the airline decides he acted out of rebellion rather than safety concerns.
The aborted flight was disclosed in a report in The Wall Street Journal yesterday. It happened on April 7 when McMillan landed the plane in Portland, Ore., four hours into a 14-hour trip.
Delta spokesman Bill Berry said Thursday he didn't know precisely what McMillan told the passengers, but they were aware the flight was being ended because of a "crew rest" issue. They were angered because they were forced to wait for another flight to Japan. It was the first time the bunk bed battle disrupted any flights.
"The pilots said they had tried to use the sleep module and were unable to get to sleep because of outside noise. The captain, because of that, made his decision," Berry said. "He felt that his crew could not be sufficiently rested to complete the flight."
Berry wouldn't say if Delta is considering sanctioning the pilot, who is just 11 months away from retirement.
"Probably the issue that the company is looking at ... is tied to a suspicion on their part that this was an act perhaps of premeditation or he was doing this as a gesture of defiance over the rest facility. That is not true," said union spokesman Deane.
McMillan declined to comment when contacted at home yesterday.
The FAA requires airlines to provide onboard sleeping quarters for pilots on flights of 12 hours or more. A crew of four -- two pilots, two co-pilots -- take turns at the controls.
The only Delta flights exceeding 12 hours are nonstop from Atlanta to Tokyo. Three Delta MD-11s are equipped with the bunks.
Until this year, crew members used walled-off sleeping quarters -- pilots called them "the condo" -- located in the middle of the business-class section. At nearly seven-feet tall and five-feet wide, it was spacious enough for changing clothes and far enough from the cockpit area's noisy hubbub.
The new bunks are located between the cockpit and the business class area and include a two-inch thick curtain to keep out noise. Pilots have to assemble the bunks in front of the passengers, pulling them out from the wall in telescoping sections. That can be embarrassing for crew members fumbling with the pieces for the first time, said Delta First Officer Winford Speakman, who co-pilots MD-11s.
"It doesn't instill a lot of confidence in some of our passengers," he said.
The bunks are 30 inches wide at the shoulders and close to 7-feet-long.
"You enter from the top and you literally have to tuck your knees up and insert your legs down into the tube," said Deane.
Crew members can hear the cockpit door opening and closing, toilets flushing from the lavatory at the foot of the bunk, and chatter from passengers who sometimes stand and lean against the sleeping quarters, Speakman said. Flight attendants sometimes bump into them with their serving carts.
"Anytime you have a very loud, overriding noise it's almost like a shock to you," Speakman said. "All of a sudden you get a very loud thump or a bang. As a pilot, we're trained to listen to these things that are out of the ordinary. It will absolutely wake you up in a flash."
Delta spokesman Berry said the captain can ask flight attendants to keep noise levels down when people are trying to sleep.
"You can do your best to create a facility that it conducive to sleep," Berry said. "It's FAA approved. It's the largest of its type of units used by other airlines."
Berry said Delta is looking into making improvements to the sleeping quarters, such as giving crew members a bit more elbow room.


Bennie and the Jets
14th Aug 2002, 01:10
Ops! Bunks + business class seats...what else? An exclusive FA for pilots and a tennis court in the cargo compartment?:D

14th Aug 2002, 07:06
Bennie Dont be a prat. When one does 14 and soon to be 18 hour flights one does not want to spend all the time in a bunk and the agreement was a business class seat in order to be allowed such very long duties in the first place which seems to have been conveniently forgotten by SIA.

In typical SIA fashion they then went on to offer money if we agreed to their demands which are in clear breach of the CA and again in true SIA fashion they threaten that if they win the court case if it comes to that they will withdraw all rights to 1st/business class to crews .

Let me just remind readers that over the recent 2 1/2 years of previous CA negotiations they threatened that if we went to court and won we would only get 6 months back pay instead of the 2.5 years owed!!

They have the morals of an alley cat and the 2 ex Generals are trying to show the Board that they are just as nasty as the previous DFO.

14th Aug 2002, 07:27
Don't know about you BigBrutha, but I do believe that landing that big heavy jet on a 45 "foot" wide runway would not be such a good idea...45 metres maybe:rolleyes:

14th Aug 2002, 08:52
SIA pilots taking industrial action ????????
You should be scared, very very scared
Good God, I'm holding my breath !! well, not too long.

Bennie and the Jets
14th Aug 2002, 12:22
45ft wide asphalt? This topic is really for professional pilots....

14th Aug 2002, 14:13
SIA pilots threaten to take industrial action....

What a screamer of a headline...

Really, ah?

Put to a secret vote? As secret as our national elections are, where voting slips come complete with a serial number?.... Wow, I'm sure this is to prevent fraudulent votes from being printed, as my leaders have told me time and again....

Well, we have not long to wait before we find out what awaits us.....

Bennie and the Jets
14th Aug 2002, 18:25
Ok BigBru, you have your own opinion but it doesn't mean that everyone must agree with what you wrote. If you really believe that business class seats for long haul flights are required to improve aviation safety, beside a horizontal rest, that’s right…it’s your point of view. But I’ve been crossing several time zones every month, and in my opinion I don’t believe they are an important safety issue, so what’s the problem? Just because there are different opinions about this matter you don’t need to treat everyone as child. Come on guy, several messages are posted here daily and divergences are usual…well, I suppose.
And about fatigue, what is your opinion about 2 cargo drivers who fly all night long with many stops during short segments without space and time to rest?

14th Aug 2002, 19:35
:( MMM Just checked the law here in the part of the 1st world I work. 16 hours duty (depending on sign in time) two crew, no problems. No bunks, no seats, no nothing required, just pilots and a flight deck.Individual airline contracts may be different to this of course, but the law says 16 hours on duty is no problem at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:confused:

14th Aug 2002, 21:22
Hmmm, well the phrase..."you asked for work when you applied..." comes to mind.
And before some wisenheimer pipes up...yes have done very long hours in the left seat...lean back and "rest your eyes" from time to time...same for the F/O, makes the situation soooo much easier.:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

14th Aug 2002, 23:28
I think one has to have actually experienced the 15 hour sector, (SFO-HKG in winter for example), before passing judgement on this subject.

Yes bunks are provided and if one's rest coincides with the body's night time then a reasonable rest can sometimes be achieved. Often the rest period comes only a couple of hours after leaving the hotel during the day and bunk rest is a joke, then a comfortable seat, a reasonable meal and some limited privacy, such as is provided by the business class cabin, can facilitate rest and possibly lead to a couple of hours of prone bunk rest later. The facilities of the EY cabin are no comparison to business class and not, in any way, conducive to rest.

What SIA should, I think, have considered is placing a couple of the original business class seats in a quiet part of the EY cabin and surrounded by a curtain, similar to the ones used when carrying stretcher pax etc. but this is a poor compromise.

Improving the quality of the business class product and expecting crew rest to bear the cost of doing it is simply not an option as now commercial considerations are being allowed to impinge on flight safety.

15th Aug 2002, 00:02
BigBrutha, I'm with you all the way. Your post was graphic and to the point.

411A - just what is it with the nit-picking, smart-ass sarcasm?
Great, BigBrutha makes a genuine mistake and you pick him up on this rather than addressing the argument. Boy, I'd sure love to fly with you bud.

B-b-b-bennie and the jets - gee, I wish I was macho enough to stay awake for seventy-two hours non stop with a ten minute sleep half-way through taken upright in my chair.

For g**s sake guys, this is a serious issue, and BigBrutha sums up the reasons why perfectly. Some so called professional pilots on here really do us all a great disservice. Unbelievable.

stable approach
15th Aug 2002, 02:01
I think everybody is missing the main point here.

Regardless of your opinion on the merits / necessity of business class seats for the crew rest, this is what the company agreed to and guaranteed to provide, in the collective agreement signed by themselves and the pilot's association.

If they can choose to ignore this part of the agreement when it suits them, what will be next?

Bennie and the Jets
15th Aug 2002, 02:15
B-b-b-bennie and the jets - gee, I wish I was macho enough to stay awake for seventy-two hours non stop with a ten minute sleep half-way through taken upright in my chair.

Ma-ma-maxximum: Did I say that pilots don’t need to rest during long-haul flights or in my opinion bunk and business class seat are an excess of privilege in name of “Flight Safety”? How do you measure it when, as I asked before, cargo drivers have been flying every night without any space and time to rest and do it safely?

15th Aug 2002, 03:17
Pilots of long haul carriers require and deserve the best rest they can get and that means a dedicated crew rest containing a comfortable bed and a room wich is quite and separate from passengers and noisy galleys. Anything else just not acceptable. This should be mandatory and up to the respective CAA's to enforce for safety and not up to airline's to use as a negotiating tool or cost saving issue.
The airline I work for has a dedicated bunk which is acceptable. Unfortunately on one of our aircraft type they have a crew rest (Bunk?) which is pathetic, situated at the rear galley in probably the worst position next to the toilets and galleys with little privacy from the pax. In this case the carrier makes available a first class seat - but even that is not really acceptable as it is not possible to have an un - interrupted rest.

The dedicated crew rest or bunk should be the only acceptable rest area and we should not be accepting anything else.

15th Aug 2002, 10:14

It seems to me your point about cargo is a red herring - so what if these guys are doing it without bunks or business class seats? Does that make it right?

I also don't think we're neccessarily comparing like with like in terms of some of the ultra long haul, heavy crewed passenger ops we now have.

But leaving that aside, the bottom line is that we should all protect our terms and conditions. If the airline agrees to a certain level of crew rest facilities, then that's what crews should get. Nothing less.

They used to send women and children down mines - it didn't make it right.

16th Aug 2002, 23:41
SQ Pilot's to Strike???
You gotta be pissing me!

Back in 1980 there were quite a few expats in SQ.
These days I believe the expats are the minority.
Couple this with the fact that the old DFO has gone, there is now new blood there and he must prove himself here and now.

A loss of face over this issue is just not an option.
This new DFO must be seen to please his masters.

If they do strike good on them - I back them up over this issue having done long-haul for many years but will it actually happen???

This will be interesting!

17th Aug 2002, 00:36
Hi folks, here's an update on the issue:



SIA pilots edge closer to industrial action
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE Airlines pilots yesterday moved one step closer to taking industrial action for the first time in 22 years.

At an extraordinary general meeting of the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore or Alpa-S, they voted in favour of holding a separate secret ballot over a dispute with the airline's management about in-flight rest breaks.

It was one of three resolutions voted on yesterday by some 250 pilots, many of whom arrived at the Pinetree Town & Country Club in Stevens Road with proxy forms empowering them to vote for their colleagues.

Just over 1,000 votes were cast in favour of the two resolutions condemning SIA's decision on the seating issue and also its move to terminate the services of the two pilots at the controls of Flight SQ 006, which crashed in Taipei two years ago, killing 83 people.

The third and most controversial resolution called for a secret ballot on taking industrial action.

With this resolution carried by about 950 votes
the pilots will now have to wait at least three weeks before they can hold the secret ballot that will see SIA's 1,600 pilots imposing work-to-rule conditions.

This is not a strike, but involves, for example, refusing to attend
non-essential meetings on their days off.

Other actions include asking for minimum notice of changes to a pilot's roster or duties, a move which could affect the airline's flight operations.

But there is still a chance that industrial action can be averted if ongoing conciliation talks undertaken by the Manpower Ministry succeeds.

Even if that fails, there is another safeguard. The ministry can order both sides to go for compulsory arbitration.

The Industrial Arbitration Court will then determine the outcome of the dispute.

At the end of yesterday's marathon six-hour session, Alpa-S officials said that they would meet management and ministry officials today to continue conciliation efforts.

The pilots had started arriving from about 5.30 pm and the meeting started at 6 pm. Vote-counting ended just before midnight because there had to be a recount.

Yesterday's meeting was called because pilots are unhappy that SIA wants them to take their in-flight breaks in economy class instead of business class, which has been the practice for 13 years.

They view the new seating arrangement as a unilateral move by the national carrier's management to change the terms of the collective agreement negotiated between Alpa-S and the airline in 2001.

These terms, they argue, cannot be altered without both sides agreeing.

The clause in question reads: 'In the case of an 'augmented' or 'double' crew, horizontal rest facilities are provided for pilots to avail themselves of in-flight rest. Business class seat/s or some other similar rest facility shall also be provided for the additional pilot/s.'

If the pilots do go ahead with work-to-rule, it will be the first time since 1980 that SIA pilots have resorted to industrial action

17th Aug 2002, 10:51
Just a point regarding the suggested(?) new terms and conditions for crew rest.

NONE, I repeat NONE of the current manangement, from DCP upwards have ever, ever, completed a lengthy period of long haul flying on the B747-400 and know absolutely nothing about the fatigue caused by such flying or the effects of improper rest facilities.

The most junior of the DCPs will have completed their normal line flying career on the -200 and -300 with the appropriate sector lengths and crew operating patterns, sector lengths and COPs that bear no relation whatsoever to those currently being flown by the -400 crews.

As someone mentioned elsewhere, have SIA even offered two standard business class seats, surrounded by curtains, in the quiet part of the EY cabin? I doubt it.

After a certain very presumptious lady from the Commercial/Marketing department got denied a jump seat out of SIN, (SIN-HKG-SFO), having considered it beneath her to bother to ask the operating captain and assuming she had a right to it, (could also have bought an ID 90% in First!), it has only been a matter of time before these unique and spitefull people would try to get their own back on the tech crew.

17th Aug 2002, 14:37
Gentlemen and the stray lady out there (To be politically correct), it is about time that management in all airlines and specially the Asian cariers, give a bit of more respect, empathy and consideration to their commanders and pilots. A first class or need be, a business class seat, is the least they can provide for their rest period. I am sick and tired of management short changing their aviators. This is a non-issue to any operations manager who has a minimum of comon sense and the operating experience to be in that position.
Pilots who attack pilots such as "Bennie and the Jets" (Can you believe the pseodonym?) have this nasty habit of ending up the "brown-nosing" track to a management position themselves. Fortunately there are more aviators out there than desk jocks. Big Brutha has got it right.

18th Aug 2002, 04:55

Absolutely spot on, especially “these unique and spiteful people would try to get their own back on the tech crew.”
Please, if only for myself, keep these pithy observations coming.

Bennie and the Jets

Whilst I suppose we must, with whatever reluctance, countenance the specious and facile observations of a section of the Pprune community, referred to elsewhere on this forum as “wannabees and Nintendo 'pilots' and all the associated armchair idiots”, we cannot let such observations go without lending aspersion to the author’s IQ and explaining to him or her the core of the matter.

Please be aware that the issue is about unilateral abrogation by SIA management, following a time hallowed formula and without an ounce of pre-consultation, of unequivocal contractual obligations made previously and collectively to the airline’s flight crews and as a corollary, includes the laudable counter stance taken by ALPA-S, to fight such unjust and contemptuous treatment.

If you are in any doubt as to the veracity of this assertion, please ask your remedial tutor to read out to you the previous postings of this thread, as confirmation.

18th Aug 2002, 07:43
Finalverdict says: …it is about time that management in all airlines… give a bit of more respect, empathy and consideration to their commanders and pilots. Interesting comment, and one quite possibly worthy of a thread of its own.

I’d be very interested to read from others on this site whether I’m alone in my suspicion that that amorphous group we pilots lump under the heading ‘management’ have been on a conscious, unremitting, deliberate and very committed campaign to undermine and downgrade the once relatively respected position a captain enjoyed in the airline industry

Where this management attitude has grown from is debatable, (just as, I admit, is my original assertion). It’s always been there to some degree – just read ‘Flying the Line’, the history of ALPA – especially those of you who pillory and ‘don’t need’ unions – to see what this job was – and would have continued to be – if the likes of Eddie Rikenbaker had had their way with their ‘Genghis Khan’ management attitudes towards pilots. Sufficient to say that had Rikenbaker and his ilk had their way, very few of us now reading this thread would have elected to become airline pilots in the first place - no matter how deep their love of flying might be – because it simply would not have been an attractive job for anyone with an iota of ambition or self-respect.

But that was fifty to seventy years ago, and I’m very aware that there are many who don’t believe that ‘ancient’ history has anything to teach them. Looking at slightly more contemporary events, I believe quite a large proportion of the ‘blame’, if that’s the right word, for the current management attitude can be traced back to Frank Lorenzo in the US and Pytor Abeles and Rupert Murdoch in Australia in the 80s – but far moreso, to those pilots who allowed them to get away with their union-busting tactics by co-operating with them for what doubtlessly seemed worthwhile reasons for many at the time.

Management worldwide learned far more from the US and Australian debacles than many, if not most, pilots not directly affected seem to have learned. They saw that they could use just about anyone to fly modern aircraft – and get away with it… or most of the time. There is always that floating group of mercenaries holding a job in a not so nice part of the world who’ll come running (to say nothing of the ‘wannabes’ who’ll take any conditions to get a foot in the proverbial door). Then there are always some others who have been recently laid off by other companies - some of these will take any job under almost any conditions just to put food on the table. But most importantly, they learned that they could always rely on a sufficiently large group from within their won company’s pilot ranks to ‘break ranks’ due to company loyalty, weakness or perceived short-term personal gain. All these pilots could usually rationalise their actions (to their own satisfaction, at least), with high-sounding platitudes and moralizations. (Don’t believe me? Take a look on the current Cathay work ban threads.)

In short? The problem is a self-inflicted wound – we’re doing it to ourselves.

18th Aug 2002, 08:16
I am not an Ultra-Long Haul pilot. A question for those who are:

What is the Industry Best Practice in relation to provision of crew rest?

What do the other majors such as United, BA, Virgin, Cathay, Qantas, Air France, SAA etc do? Bunks and Business Class seats? Or some other combination?

There has to be a yardstick to measure this dispute by surely?:confused:

18th Aug 2002, 12:42
In the August 18 Sunday Times; also some interesting account of the earlier dispute and its resolution.



SIA and pilots in talks over seat dispute
By Ahmad Osman and Dominic Nathan
The Sunday Times

WITH three weeks to go before Singapore Airlines pilots can vote on taking industrial action, pressure is mounting to break the deadlock in negotiations with the airline's management.

Key officials from the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore (Alpa-S), senior human resource personnel from the company and officers from the Manpower Ministry held talks yesterday, with more scheduled for tomorrow.

The continuing talks hold out hope that a compromise can be hammered out over what appears to be a simple disagreement over whether pilots should take their in-flight rest breaks in economy or business class seats.

Some readers have asked if the issue is serious enough to warrant industrial action that could cause costly delays and flight cancellations.

Although work to rule action is not a strike, requiring the minimum notice for changes to a pilot's roster or duties when the airline is already short of pilots, could affect flight operations.

Alpa-S contends that the issue is not about seats, but the sanctity of the collective agreement.
But SIA's management does not see the new rest arrangements as a violation of the agreement.

It maintains that with fewer business class seats available now bigger Spacebeds are being installed, all seats should be filled with paying passengers.

But the pilots argue that there is a shortage of pilots, citing the more than 10,000 days of leave owed to the SIA's 1,600 pilots. This means that flight safety could be compromised if they are not well rested.

Also, being ''exposed' in economy class might pose a security risk, as they would be further away from the cockpit in an emergency.

After several rounds of talks ended in deadlock, the resolution to hold a secret ballot on taking industrial action was carried on Friday night with an 86 per cent majority.

Expatriate pilots, of whom there are about 500, could not vote, but the resolution still received about 950 ballots at the six-hour long Alpa-S extraordinary general meeting at the Pinetree Town & Country Club.

Two other resolutions condemning the management of SIA over the termination of the services of the two SQ 006 pilots and the new seating arrangement, each won about 97 per cent of the votes.

Alpa-S officials, with the advice of lawyers, made sure they complied with every legal requirement, before going down the same road as their predecessors 22 years ago.
In 1980, it was the failure to hold a secret ballot before starting industrial action that resulted in the pilots union being de-registered.

Fourteen flights were disrupted when illegal industrial action was taken, after talks over salaries and benefits broke down.

Then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew stepped in to settle the dispute.

Three pilots were sacked. And 15 union officials, hauled to court, were given an absolute discharge after the judge ruled that they had been adequately punished by their appearances in court, the press publicity and the 'public chastisement'.

Twenty-two years on, pilots did not want to draw any parallels with the 1980 episode.

At the end of Friday's balloting, Alpa-S honorary secretary Captain Sutharsanan, said: 'If we can come to an amicable solution, then it stops there.'

18th Aug 2002, 13:06
>>Expatriate pilots, of whom there are about 500, could not vote...<<

Sounds like a real progressive labor organization, doesn't it?

18th Aug 2002, 21:31
Is CX acting as advisor to SQ on labour issues?

19th Aug 2002, 03:08
But the pilots argue that there is a shortage of pilots, citing the more than 10,000 days of leave owed to the SIA's 1,600 pilots. This means that flight safety could be compromised if they are not well rested.

If this is true, then ALPA-S should be brawling with the Company over pilot numbers and getting their leave entitlements.

You can't have it both ways lads, annual leave is far more beneficial "rest" than riding in business class for a couple of hours a month! IMHO,denying pilot's their leave entitlements is also a bigger flight safety issue.

Keep the faith:]

22nd Aug 2002, 05:07
What is happening here is SIA are trying to claw back some of the $2 Billion SGD that the CEO has lost the Airline in their disastrous investments in Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand, Not only did we take an unnecessary paycut for 6 months, we also lost our service increment for 2002 just so the CEO could not lose face and show a loss for the financial year.

Now his two ex Armchair bullyboy Generals are trying to show their worth to the Board and screw the Pilots and save more money,whilst the CEO has the barefaced cheek to continue in his position but that is how things go in Singapore.

Just look at the financial losses incurred by Govt investment arm in China, the huge losses at DBS Bank who paid over the odds for a Bank in Hong Kong, Singtel paying over the odds for Optus in Oz and so it goes on. The CEO of SIA wins hands down on what he has lost the company, I award him the title of investment Clown of the year!!!

22nd Aug 2002, 20:05
1) SIA is shafting their pilots again. Nothing new.
2) Will it happen again and worst? Yes.
3) Pilots take industrial action. They will lose under the Singapore judicial system.
4) Pilots go on strike. Too scared of the iron fisted Lee Kuan Yew system, it will never happen (you will go to jail).
5) Generals and fancy military titles running the show. KGB mixed with Geshtapo, scary.

Boys, there is life (better) outside Singapore. If you have any manhood, seek employment elsewhere. Otherwise you should know better. Might have to exchange the chili bottle in your flight bag for a tube of KY.

23rd Aug 2002, 14:46
Hi folks,

received this in the mail. Good for them. That's progress,although
I wonder whether all the heartaches could have been avoided !




23 August 2002 2142 hrs (SST) 1342 hrs (GMT)

SIA and pilots' union reach compromise_
By S. Ramesh/Wong Siew Ying
Channel News Asia

SIA and the airline pilots' union have reached a compromise to prevent any industrial action by the pilots.

The sixth round of talks ended successfully on Friday evening.
According to the union, the pilots have agreed to a concession in their collective agreement with SIA.

Instead of reserving two business class seats for them to take their breaks during long-haul flights, SIA will reserve only one of the new business class seats - known as space beds - and two economy class seats.

This frees up one seat for the airline to sell to paying passengers.

But there is an option for the pilot to upgrade, to either business or first class, if there are any vacant seats left.

If there are no seats available, and the pilot has to take his break in economy class, SIA will pay him a compensation of $200.


23rd Aug 2002, 15:33
>>If there are no seats available, and the pilot has to take his break in economy class, SIA will pay him a compensation of $200.<<

That sort of shoots down the safety argument for upgraded crew rest seats but I'm glad they were able to work out a compromise.

23rd Aug 2002, 15:42
yes, can money compensate for fatigue ?:confused:

23rd Aug 2002, 23:39

Some more details on the compromise,from this evening's Straits Times.

If indeed the compromise was along those terms that the management had offered earlier, one wonders what point has been made. :D



With Manpower Ministry's help, both sides agree to compromise over rest seats for pilots, with compensation too

By Dominic Nathan and Ahmad Osman
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE Airlines (SIA) and its pilots resolved their dispute over in-flight breaks yesterday, ending the threat of industrial action against the airline.

The two sides hammered out a compromise at about 9 pm, after a tense 10-hour session yesterday, the sixth round of talks brokered by the Manpower Ministry (MOM) in the last two weeks.

The dispute erupted after the pilots were asked to take their meal and rest breaks in economy- instead of business-class seats, as they have for 13 years, because fewer business-class seats are now available following the introduction of the bigger SpaceBeds.

The Air Line Pilots Association Singapore, or Alpa-S, threatened work-to-rule action that could cause costly delays and flight cancellations, because it felt the airline's demands breached the collective agreement signed last year.

With under two weeks to go before the pilots were to hold a secret ballot on industrial action, MOM's mediation efforts yesterday helped break the months-long deadlock between both sides.

The compromise agreement will see one business-class seat set aside for pilots and if they have to sit in economy, they will receive $200 in compensation.

Pilots will also be given priority to upgrade to business class, ahead of passengers and staff. And if business class is full, they may occupy an empty first-class seat.

These terms differ depending on the length of the flights and the number of cockpit crew on board.

Representing the airline in yesterday's final round of talks were human resource senior vice-president Loh Meng See, senior vice-president for flight operations, Major-General (NS) Raymund Ng and industrial relations vice-president Chew Kai Seng.In the Alpa-S team were association president Dilip Padbidri, industrial relations vice-president Frank John and association treasurer P. James.

Helping to make peace between both sides were three officials from MOM, led by veteran mediator, labour relations director Ong Yen Her.

The talks started at 11 am and ended only at about 9 pm.

Captain John told The Straits Times last night: 'It was a bit tense, as everyone was under pressure to find a compromise.'

He said the sticking point had been the offer of compensation. Instead of cash, Alpa-S had wanted higher upgrade priority for first officers when they flew while on leave.
'We were strongly advised by the ministry to accept the cash component, so we made the concession in the light of the current economic climate and the tough times facing the airline,' Captain John added.

The compromise agreement appears similar to an offer SIA's management made during earlier rounds of stalled negotiations, which Alpa-S had rejected.

Alpa-S will now call an extraordinary general meeting, to be held in about two weeks, when its members, who account for 90 per cent of SIA's 1,600 pilots, will vote to accept the compromise.

They will also vote to dissolve an earlier resolution calling for a secret vote on work-to-rule action.

This will formally end the threat of industrial action against the airline, which last saw such an event 22 years ago.

When contacted, an SIA spokesman said: 'We are pleased that an agreement has been reached.'

However, Captain John was less upbeat. 'We cannot celebrate when there are two pilots out of a job. We will still engage the company to reinstate them,' he said, referring to the pilots of the ill-fated SQ006 whose services SIA had terminated.


New terms

* One business-class seat to be set aside for pilots; $200 compensation for pilots who have to sit in economy.

* Pilots to be given priority to upgrade to business class, ahead of passengers and staff.

* If business class is full, pilots may occupy an empty first-class seat.

The terms differ depending on whether the flight lasts up to 11 hours or so, with two captains and one first officer on board, or if it stretches to 14 hours, with two captains and two first officers.

John Barnes
24th Aug 2002, 04:24
It shows again that there is no real will among the pilot ranks to battle the "Generals"
In true Singapore style management says: "JUMP" and the pilots ask: "HOW HIGH SIR?"
If AlpaS had fought it on safety grounds, they lose the safety argument when they accept a monetary compensation, but let's face it, SIA pilots have always buckeled when a few crumps were offered. If AlpaS and its members want to be respected in the aviation community they should throw out the offer, sit in economy, and work to the rule.

24th Aug 2002, 10:28
Hi folks,

Just seem to be getting more updates on this through the mail,so am posting them here for completeness.

I've seen on another forum that the dispute may not be over yet,as all that ALPA-S has agreed to is to take the "proposal" back to the general membership for a vote.

The latest email received on this matter seems to partially answer the question that I posed earlier. Please see below:




24 August 2002 1310 hrs (SST) 0510 hrs (GMT)

SIA and pilots dispute could have been avoided

By Asha Popatlal

The recent dispute between Singapore Airlines and its pilots is a lesson on how better relations between management and labour could have helped avoid a face off at the negotiating table.
This was the view of Minister of State for Manpower Ng Eng Hen.

On Friday, both SIA and ALPA-S, the association representing the pilots, came to a compromise over the conditions of in-flight rest breaks for pilots.

The deal followed the 6th round of talks brokered by the Manpower Ministry.

If the compromise had not been reached, the SIA pilots would have had to hold a secret ballot on taking up industrial action.

Such a work-to-rule move would have meant costly flight delays and cancellations for SIA passengers.

Dr Ng left no doubt that this would have had a negative impact on Singapore as SIA is a brand name for the country.

While welcoming the compromise reached, he was of the view there were lessons to be learnt from this episode.

"We should get management and union to sit up and realise how, in moving forward when there are changes, we can do this in a more amicable fashion where we don't have to sit across a table and negotiate," he said.

With better communications, Dr Ng said SIA's management could have elicited what he called "buy-in" at an earlier stage for the changes proposed, so the pilots may not have objected to them.


24 August 2002 1902 hrs (SST) 1102 hrs (GMT)

No victory or defeat for both pilots and SIA: ALPA-S
By S. Ramesh

The Airline Pilots Association of Singapore has said there is no element of victory or defeat in the compromise reached with Singapore Airlines on Friday.

Captain Francis John, Vice-President (Industrial Affairs) of ALPA-S, said both sides made concessions, with the pilots taking a reasonable stand, as there was pressure from the Manpower Ministry for them to do so.

After six rounds of talks mediated by the Manpower Ministry, both sides came to an agreement late on Friday night.

Capt John added: "Looking at the greater good, looking at the business environment, looking at the benefits for the airline and Singapore in toto, we thought it was best and prudent that we meet each other half way.

"The company appears to have gotten away with a victory but I don't think that's the position we should take.

"The company must not forget to treat the pilots with dignity and respect. It is not in our interest to lower the esteem of the company or muddy the good name."

So instead of reserving two business class seats for the pilots to take their breaks on long-haul flights, SIA will reserve only one seat known as 'space bed' and two economy class seats.

This will free up one seat for SIA to sell to paying passengers.
ALPA-S has argued that safety would be compromised if pilots are to take their breaks in the economy class.

So what does Friday's agreement mean?

Capt John said: "There is a certain amount of reduction, but is it
compromised? The answer is no. There is still several levels of safety built in already but this is the minimum we think is acceptable and we won't be willing to compromise from here on."

Now it is up to the pilots to accept the compromise at an extra-ordinary general meeting to be called.


26th Aug 2002, 02:03
Aviator 38 What a load of rubbish you talk. SIA wanted both pilots out of business class unless seats were available,so this so called 'compromise' is nothing short of buckling under knowing that SIA have clearly breached the CA but knowing that going down the road through the 'Courts' in Singapore will result in one thing only namely 'LOSING' as civil servants do as they are told by Gov't who are major shareholders and they would not want their two ex armchair bullyboy Generals to lose face. It is an absolute disgrace but that is Singapore I am afraid.

John Barnes I cannot agree with you that we should work to rule and sit in Economy as very few would really put their heads on the block and all SIA have to do is a 'CATHAY' and terminate say 10 Captains with just 3 months notice,thats what comes of working for a 3rd World Airline with draconian 3rd world labour laws. Whats another few thousand days of outstanding leave to add to the 10000 already owed Pilots???

Alpha-S are in a no win situation and at least we Captains still have aBusines Class seat and most F/Os will take the money and sleep for 7 hours whatever the time of day their rest is in the Bunk. I hope this does not sound like an 'I am alright Jack attitude' because it is not just a realisation of the Facts of Life in SIA aand the so called Legal process here.

26th Aug 2002, 04:56
By the way, which seats have been agreed for augmented crew?

John Barnes
27th Aug 2002, 19:52
You hit it right on the head Gypsy, as long as you are afraid of what your actions can "undo" you will always be a looser and you will always have to pick-up the crumbs, At least the Cathay pilots took their management on in a real action. The actions of the SIA pilots are very loud in the crewrooms around the world and even louder in the pinetree club, but when it comes to real action there is nobody to be seen. And this of course is very well known by the guys accros the table. So as I said before, take what's being offered, sit in economy, fly 18 hours, and be happy you have a job. Also be ready for much more degrading down the line, because he who turns the other cheeck will be hammered on it!!! (Old bibical quote from the WWF handbook)