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Pilot Strike Killing Air Zimbabwe

Air Zimbabwe 767-2N0ER Z-WPF. Photo taken at K...

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The never ending Air Zimbabwe pilot strikes have just become so tired, boring and annoying. Parliament has deliberated back and forth and there seems to be no progress. If they go back to work, they will soon be on strike once again. They get paid lots of money to sit and watch instruments while a plane flies itself. To become an airline pilot all you need is a lot of money and good health but I will not discredit the job of the pilot, because yes, it is very important, especially in the event of an emergency. Air Zimbabwe pilots however are putting the profession in disrepute. From my point of view they are looking like a bunch of glorified drivers who are just out to make quick buck. They have no regard for their employer Air Zimbabwe or the customer, the flying public who pay their salaries and are greatly inconvenienced because of the never ending strikes.

Air Zimbabwe has been tinkering on the edge of its death bed and yet its pilots still have the audacity to go on strike. The national airline has faced set back after set back and has lost the little goodwill it had in the past.  The final blow is now the continual pilot strikes. If we cannot trust the pilots to serve the customer, what hope is there for the airline? A newspaper cartoon had Air Zimbabwe on a hospital bed in ICU and this was a very fitting analogy. What the pilots are doing is literally taking the airline off life support and strangling it. If someone in ICU owed you money, you would actually spoon feed them to make sure they get better, go back to work and pay you back your dues. You certainly wouldn’t take them off life support, strangle them and then demand your money back. If they are dead, they certainly can’t pay you back. What is the point of killing the airline while demanding your money back, where are the brains in that?

The pilots argue that they are not being paid market related salaries and that the airline owes them money. Air Zimbabwe is operating in Zimbabwe under a harsh economic environment and cannot pay salaries equivalent to its regional counterparts. Nurses and teachers still go to work every day while earning a measly $150, maybe a tenth of the average salary in the region. Is it not easier for the pilots to go into the region or internationally  and get those so called competitive salaries at other airlines than to ruin the little reputation Air Zimbabwe has?

 “In a way what we are doing is not fair. In the same way as it’s not fair that nurses in the NHS are not paid more than they are, which we’d all like to see, just because we’re human beings. We don’t sit down and consider whether decisions may be fair or not. We try and find out how we can make people fly in our aeroplanes rather than other peoples. Robert Ayling, “

Robert Ayling argued that change was needed to ensure BA competitiveness and that BA employees have been insulated from painful changes inflicted on other employees. During this challenging time at BA, Ayling went without a salary so that he himself wasn’t insulated from the changes. Air Zimbabwe pilots had been cushioned from the reality that other Zimbabwean employees have had to endure. Employees in Zimbabwe have been going for months without pay; some have had their hours cut just to keep companies afloat. Air Zimbabwe challenges are not unique but are similar to that of almost every Zimbabwean company. Pilots cannot assume to be immune to the painful changes that all other employees are enduring.

With a battered image, disheartened customers and a tough economic environment to operate in Air Zimbabwe has a steep mountain to climb. Only time will tell if they make it up that mountain, but without the support and buy in of their staff especially the pilots, it is certainly going to be a challenge.

Categories: General
  1. September 21, 2011 at 7:21 am

    So pilots strike and go back to work. Now its time for the passengers to strike.

    March 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm


    • March 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm

      Its a bit hard to give something that is not there. As we speak the airline isnt flying because of financial constraints…

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