PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidadian Ministry of Labour says it is unable to intervene in efforts to bring an end to protest action being taken by pilots with the regional carrier – Caribbean Airlines (CAL).
According to Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, based on the Industrial relations Act, the ministry's hands are tied.
“I cannot intervene based on the Industrial Relations Act… outlines the conditions under which I intervene in any dispute. And neither of the parties (CAL and T&T Airline Pilots Association—TTALPA) have requested my intervention at this time,” the minister told the Trinidad Guardian, while adding that based on information received “the pilots have agreed to go back to work.”
However, she referred to reports of several flights being delayed -- “you don't need rocket science to work that out…that they have not really gone back to work.”
CAL pilots are refusing to fly the five ATRs for the airline because of what they say is the airline's total refusal to address serious safety issues and concerns they have raised.
Since Friday, several flights had to be cancelled and were delayed due to the pilots refusing to operate the aircraft which they say have been experiencing constant technical problems.
At the Tobago's terminal and Piarco International Airport on Sunday, passengers complained of waiting for hours.
Last Sunday, a CAL flight crew had to make an emergency landing at Hewanorra International Airport in St Lucia after a warning light came on in an aircraft.
Two days later another ATR aircraft scheduled to fly to St Lucia faced technical problems and passengers were forced to disembark and utilise another airplane.
On the weekend, CAL's communications manager Dionne Ligoure confirmed the flight delays.
“In the airline business when you have delays running one after the other you would expect spill-over into the next day and we have had delays today as well. But that was expected.” Ligoure could not say how many flights were delayed.
The ATR is a twin-engine turboprop, short-haul, airplane manufactured by a French-Italian conglomerate.