Flights cancelled as pilots call in sick

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Air Zimbabwe pilots on Friday went on strike in a row over pay and conditions, marking the first walk-out by the airline’s pilots in almost ten years.

The strike action has already disrupted travel plans of over a thousand
travellers, after the airline was forced to cancel both its short and
long-haul flights.

Authorities said they had suspended flights with immediate effect because its pilots were sick. They said all Friday and Saturday flights had been cancelled and the situation would be reviewed later.

A former pilot with the airline said the aggrieved pilots may have resorted to being ‘sick’ because the country’s laws make it difficult for airline employees to strike.

‘In many countries, airline employees must participate in a lengthy
mediation process expressly designed to force a resolution before they can
strike. If mediation fails, the head of state may order a 60-day cooling-off
period, during which pilots must return to work. But to go around the
system, the pilots can phone in sick and there is nothing the airline can do
to prevent this,’ said the former pilot.

Since 2003 the airline, which flies to 17 destinations using a fleet of 7
aircrafts, has been struggling financially.

In February 2004 it was temporarily suspended by IATA over unpaid debts. On numerous occasions the airline has been saved at the last minute by the Reserve Bank, which has bailed it out with cheap loans.

Crippling industrial action is sweeping across all sectors as workers reject
the small increments offered by government and private companies already
weighed down by a deepening economic crisis.

Workers are demanding inflation-adjusted salary increments and Poverty Datum Line (PDL) based wages. Others are demanding salaries in forex.

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