Fred Lewis Posted April 1, 2010 Report Share Posted April 1, 2010 From time to time, some posters are sufficiently motivated by job dissatisfaction to either hint or outright state that unionization of pilots and engineers is desirable. While it is a mistake to assume that anything in life, let alone legal proceedings, is a slam dunk, a very compelling argument can be made that pilots and engineers are in fact working when they are waiting to fly or maintain the aircraft. There is precedence in Canadian legislation that states that employees are “deemed to be at work while on call at a location designated by the employer” or that “no employer shall, unless he complies with subsection (2), require or permit any employee to work or be at his disposal for more than eight hours in any day or 40 hours in any week”. Subsection (2) requires the payment of overtime. A pilot or engineer who is in the field waiting to fight fire, move drills or set out geologists has been engaged to wait, and the Canada Labour Code gives him the right to work (wait) no more than eight hours a day unless he agrees to do so and is compensated with overtime. Sometimes this agreement is required in writing and must be approved by the authorities. Firemen are paid to wait for fire, paramedics are paid to wait for injury and policemen are paid to wait for crime. All of these occupations are unionized. The helicopter pilots who fly for Transport Canada are unionized. An entry level pilot there can expect to earn about $78,000 a year for working a 7.5 hour day or a 37.5 hour week. Overtime is paid. His hourly rate of pay is about $40. If he stands a 14 hour day he is paid his regular wage for the first 7.5 hours. The next 6 hours are paid at time and half (there is also a provision for double time) so he will earn at least another $360 for these overtime hours. The benefits are numerous. Annual vacation is granted. An experienced pilot who works for wages where no other benefits are involved can justifiably ask for $50 an hour. A 14 hour day with overtime would gross him $850. The Canada Labour Code gives engineers the right to refuse to work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week if they so choose. An experienced engineer is worth at least as much as an experienced pilot. Even if an engineer worked for $40 an hour, in a standard 2,000 hour year he would gross $80,000. Overtime is in addition to that. Pilots and engineers can negotiate their own deals with employers if they want but it is easier and far less stressful to organize and do it as a group. Associations like HEPAC and the College are useful and desirable, but the one does not exist and the other may not be actually up and running for some time. The unionization procedure is straightforward and relatively quick. Several trade unions exist which will act as the bargaining agent for any bargaining unit that wishes to be so certified. Many bargaining units comprised of pilots exist in Canada. Some employees may not be compelled to organize. Their situations may so agreeable that such action is unnecessary. A half dozen such instances come to mind. Some of these involve 14 hour duty days but averaging aligns these arrangements with CLC requirements. A few employers have made conscious efforts to provide their pilots and engineers with agreeable schedules. Most employers are mortified by the prospect of unions. A great deal of jumping up and down and flapping of arms ensues. Unfortunately, employees have a legal right to unionize. Employers can try to frustrate union efforts but they fail more often than not and it costs them money. What they are dealing with after all is just a contract, and one they have ample opportunity to negotiate. If unionization causes labour costs to rise, the simple solution is to raise charter rates. They have been far too low for far too long. If they must be increased by 30 or 40% to pay pilots and engineers what they are really worth, then it is about time. They deserve it. Work to live. Do not live to work. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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