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Korean Air Pilot Union To Stage 7-Day Strike In Late March

By March 11, 2017 at 9:08 am
Korean Air's pilot union will begin their strike on March 24 and will run for seven days. (Photo : Getty Images)

The pilot union at Korean Air Lines Co. announced Friday that they will go on strike for one week later this month following the collapse of their negotiations for an increase in wages.

If the strike moves ahead as planned, it will be their first work stoppage after their walkout in December to protest the prolonged negotiations with Korean Air management over wages.

The strike will begin on March 24 and will run for seven days, according to the pilot union. Around 230 of the carrier's 2,300 pilots will join the strike, according to a report by the Yonhap News Agency.

In December, around 180 Korean Air pilots went on a 10-day strike as they demanded a 29 percent wage increase.

It was the first walkout by the pilot union since December 2005 that forced the carrier to cancel over 1,000 flights and resulted to over 200 billion won in losses in just four days, according to a report by The Korea Times.

The December walkout prompted South Korea's largest flag carrier to cancel 148 flights, including 12 cargo flights.

The fast growth of Chinese airlines is one of the biggest reasons seen for the pilots' clamor for higher salaries. With Chinese airlines needing more experienced pilots, some of them offer Korean pilots annual salaries that range from 250 to 350 million won.

The pilots, however, said in December that the strike was caused by their disappointment with the company, rather than the issue of wages, according to The Korea Times.

Some industry observers claimed that Korean pilots are hesitant to transfer to Chinese airlines because of inferior welfare incentives compared to what Korean airlines offer. Also, pilots who work for Chinese airlines are only three-year contract workers.

On Friday, the management made an offer of a retroactive wage increase of 1.9 percent for 2015 and 2.3 percent for 2016, but the union turned down the plan, the Yonhap report said.

Last month, the company reported a net loss of 642 billion won in the final quarter of 2016 compared with a 132 billion won profit in the same period the previous year. 

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