Redundancies prompt strike action at Japan Airlines

Redundancies prompt strike action at Japan Airlines

Cabin crew at Japan Airlines are preparing to walk out on strike on Christmas Day as the carrier prepares to make a series of redundancies.

The airline was rescued from financial collapse by the Japanese government earlier this year, with a recovery plan approved by courts in November.

The plan, submitted to the Tokyo District Court in August, includes a ¥521.5 billion debt waiver from its creditors, a reduction of about 16,000 jobs, or some 30 per cent of the JAL group’s combined workforce, termination of 45 unprofitable domestic and international routes, and retirement of 103 aircraft.

“We will revamp our business early by conducting the rehabilitation plan faithfully,” said JAL president Masaru Onishi.

“We are aiming to build a muscular organisation that can grow even in the intensifying competition, or event risk.”

However, in response to the changes cabin crew are now considering industrial action.

Pilots are also said to be unhappy with the changes, with over 90 positions expected to be shed on December 31st.

Those pilots who have received dismissal notices are, moreover, preparing to sue the company, claiming it is unlawful to forcibly terminate employment contracts.

The pilots are expected to file a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court early next year, the daily said.

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International Perspective

Trade unions in the oneworld alliance have also made a joint approach to JAL on behalf of the Japan Airlines Cabin Crew (CCU).

In a letter to the company, top union leaders from key oneworld carrier countries have written expressing concern about the dispute and calling upon the airline to reverse its redundancy plans.

Specifically, the unions are dismayed about allegations that workers were selected for dismissal on the basis of age and trade union activity.

They also questioned the need for further reductions to the workforce given reports that the number of cabin crew who have applied for the voluntary retirement programme had well exceeded the company’s original goal.

The initiative, coordinated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation whose members cover all major global carriers, sees unions with members in BA, Qantas, American Airlines, Royal Jordanian, LAN, Cathay Pacific and Finnair operations coming together to sign off on a joint written protest.

Yoko Mori of the JAL-CCU said: “Fundamental principles are at stake here. ITF affiliates who represent members in the oneworld Alliance companies know that and they have urged JAL to resolve this.

“The ball is in JAL’s court.”