US - Delta Airlines' pilots have threatened strike action that would put the carrier out of business, unless their contract demands are met.
It has been reported that Delta offered pilots a US$300m payment should the pilot’s pension plan be terminated, but it has been claimed pilots are seeking a significantly higher sum of $1bn.
Chairman of the pilots' union's executive committee Lee Moak has accused Delta management of failing to do their part on achieving a mutually acceptable agreement after they responded to the union’s proposal.
“To state that their proposal demonstrates a lack of commitment to reach a consensual agreement would be a gross understatement,” said Moak.
“While our proposal represents real and significant sacrifices on the part of the Delta pilots, management’s counter consists of little more than minor cosmetic changes wrapped around their same overreaching demands.”
Should Delta pilots’ demands not be met, they have openly threatened strike action for the first time.
In a letter to Delta pilots, Moak told how he last week directed the official opening of the MEC Strike Preparedness Center in Atlanta.
“This response is an act of self-defence against a Delta management that seems intent on rejecting our contract.” Moak went on to say that he could activate the Strike Center “on very short notice” if necessary.
A spokesperson for Delta said strike action would force the company out of business.
Meanwhile, Northwest Airline also faces strike action, as pilots today begin voting to authorise a strike. The voting process will last 15 days, with ballots counted on February 28.
Chairman of the NWA chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Mark McClain, accused Northwest’s management of having “arrogant” and “excessive” demands that were putting Northwest's future “in serious jeopardy.
McClain said. “Northwest pilots understand the serious nature of a strike, but we will defend ourselves with all available ‘self-help’ options up to and including the complete withdrawal of pilot services from Northwest Airlines.
By Damian Clarkson
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