I am writing today to update you on the current situation at Avianca and ask for your assistance in appealing to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to take action on a petition by Acdac. Attached you will find two letters from the Federation to the Commission. The first is dated 8 March 2018, regarding the petition of the Asociación Colombiana de Aviadores Civiles (Acdac), case number MC-757-17, concerning their rights to freedom of association, to collective bargaining, and to strike. The second is an update to the Commission from the Federation sent earlier today.
Acdac’s petition was made through Colombia’s Central Union of Workers (CUT) to the IACHR to stay the decision of Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice and direct that the Colombian Government to take action to reinstate the 108 Pilots who were improperly dismissed and an additional 113 pilots who had their contracts suspended for exercising their right to strike. IFALPA, as a representative of pilots throughout the world, has notified the Commission that it fully supports ACDAC’s petition.
It is our understanding that the petition is based on the following improper actions by the Colombian Government and Courts:
- With a legal strike by Avianca Pilots in progress, the Colombian government unilaterally and improperly convened a compulsory Arbitral Tribunal which allowed Avianca to refuse to negotiate a collective agreement with Acdac.
- The Supreme Court of Justice in Colombia, ignoring its own precedents and those of the Constitutional Court and the Council of State, decided that the strike of the pilots was illegal because airline pilots provide an essential service.
- The Supreme Court ignored ILO Fundamental Conventions 87 and 98, and Technical Convention 154, ratified by Colombia, and part of the Colombian Political Constitution. ILO doctrine was also ignored, particularly that of the Committee on Freedom of Association and the Committee of Experts, which established that transportation in general does not constitute an essential public service. The service provided by airline pilots, in particular, is not classified as an essential service.
- The actions of the Colombian government and Courts violates articles 8 and 16 of the American Convention on Human Rights, and the protocol of San Salvador. The violations were verified by the Ombudsman of Colombia and by the President of the Human Rights Commission of the Congress of the Republic of Colombia.
- This issue, now before the Commission, has far reaching effects for all workers in the Americas and throughout the world. The flagrant contravention of the fundamental labor conventions is a troubling trend toward governments favoring corporate interests over workers’ rights.
IFALPA has respectfully requested that the IACHR urge the Colombian Government to comply with the labor conventions they have ratified and to take the necessary measures to require Avianca to reinstate the dismissed pilots.
I am urging you to send your own letter to the Commission. Please use the second letter sent by the Federation as a model and highlight the points made above.
At our Conference we called on Avianca management to immediately reinstate all terminated pilots and cease all legal action against the Acdac Board of Directors and pilots. The anti-union activities, including disciplinary actions and dismissals by Avianca is clearly in retaliation against qualified and experienced Colombian airline pilots for their union activity.
Your continued involvement in addressing this important issue is much appreciated.
Captain Ron Abel
International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations
Fédération international des associations de pilotes de ligne
IFALPA – The Global Voice of Pilots / La voix des pilotes dans le monde
485 McGill Street, Suite 700
Montreal, Quebec (Canada) H2Y 2H4
Telephone: +1 571 449 7594
Mobile: +1 563 650 1524