Korean Air pilots plan strike during Chuseok

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Korean Air pilots plan strike during Chuseok

Korean Air pilots gave official notice that they intend to start a one-week strike on Oct. 1, during this year’s unusually long Chuseok holiday period when travel demand is expected to be especially high.

The union said 390 pilots will participate, which is around 14 percent of the company’s 2,700 pilots, among which 2,300 are Korean. An official notice was given to Korean Air on Thursday night.

However, the final number of pilots who actually take part in the strike may be smaller as the list of participants is selected by the union but each member can later decide if he or she actually wants to strike. In December the union planned a strike of 211 pilots, but only 168 were willing to take part. Another planned strike was cancelled this year due to low participation.

Korea’s largest air carrier and its pilots union have been in conflict for the last two years over salaries. The pilots union is currently asking for a 4 percent increase for 2015’s salary, a 7 percent increase on last year’s and the implementation of a policy to raise the retirement allowance one percent per service year. Their initial request during a strike in Jan. 2016 was a 37 percent raise for 2015’s salary.

If the plan is accepted, pilots will receive back pay for both years and the increased salary will be standard for this year’s annual wage as well.

On the other side, Korean Air has suggested a 1.9 percent raise for 2015 and a 3.2 percent raise for 2016.

Regarding concerns on possible flight cancellations for those who reserved tickets to travel during the 10-day Chuseok holidays, a Korean Air spokesman said the possibility of flight reservations being changed is slim.

In 2010, the government designated Korean Air as a business entity that works in favor of the public interest. This set the limit by law that 80 percent of international routes and 50 percent of domestic routes have to operate during strikes.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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