May 11, 2011

Air Pacific staft to be cut loose

Couched once again in the "goebbellian" double-speak that Bainimarama's military regime excels in, staff of Air Pacific will be thrown under a bus and made to feel good about this MAJOR loss of livelihood, as if a redundancy pay-out is the offer of a life-time.

Of course the kow-towing padding by the regime sympathizers and "pretend media", the Fiji Sun helps.

Despite all their hype, we knew way back in March last year, that the systematic dismantling of all the major "sovereign" sectors in Fiji by the military regime was on the cards.

It might be advisable for all frequent travellers to avoid Air Pacific as they undergo these developments, to avoid joining the chorus of complaints about their service, or lack thereof.

We love Air Pacific dearly, but in these times, it is advisable to ensure that customers value for money is paramount, over progressing the military regime's agenda.

National carrier Air Pacific yesterday began telling its staff of generous options available to them as it restructures and downsizes work force numbers.

They include up to near half a year of severance pay, and continuing travel benefits on the national airline.

Reports indicate that managing director/Chief Executive Officer Dave Pflieger yesterday began advising all Fiji staff of the extensive voluntary staff reduction programme.

Staff were apparently briefed that the loss-making national airline is restructuring to ensure it can return to sustainable profitability in the face of growing pressure from increasing fuel prices and competition from low-cost carriers such as Virgin/Pacific Blue and Jetstar.

Officials were not available for comments before this edition went to press.

But as reported earlier, Mr Pflieger appears focused on rebuilding the company to ensure lower costs, better customer service and industry best practices.

Air Pacific has apparently noted that because of the critical nature of their roles, pilots and engineers are not eligible to apply for these voluntary release programmes.

The company, which has already eliminated 20 per cent of its senior management positions in this restructure, is believed to have offered three options to its Fiji staff.

1: Early Retirement Programme for employees 50 years and over, who have a minimum of 10 years of service to Air Pacific. Applications accepted for this programme will receive the equivalent of 24 weeks (approximately six months) of severance pay; payment for any accrued annual leave; payment for any long service leave earned but not yet taken; retiree travel benefits and continuation of medical insurance for six months from the date of retirement.

2: A Voluntary Separation Programme for employees who have three years or more of service.

Applicants accepted will receive their choice of the better of two options:

(a) The opportunity to permanently separate from Air Pacific with the equivalent of 24 weeks (approximately six months) of severance pay, payment for any accrued annual leave, payment for any long service leave earned and two ID90 travel passes for the employee and eligible family members per year for five years from the date of separation, and;

(b) Whatever payout would be required in the case of redundancy set out in their employment contract or collective bargaining agreement

3. Redundancies. While the company hopes to reduce the number of involuntary job reductions, a number of additional roles and positions are expected to be permanently eliminated. The invitation to apply for these voluntary separation programmes is apparently open until May 30. It is believed the company hopes to finalise all applications and advise each applicant on the status of their application by June 13.

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