Air Mauritius must not reintegrate the [...] (two) pilots. [...] The decision of the Board to reintegrate one pilot Frédéric Gébert after he allegedly tendered a letter of apology on the same day of his dismissal on 6 October 2017 is very questionable indeed.
It is contended that Air Mauritius pilots had grievances which they allegedly put before the Board of Air Mauritius, the national airline, but that those grievances were ignored over a long period of time. Like any employee, there are other ways to have forced the Board to hear and pronounce on their grievances, such as taking the matter to court.
But, it appears that three pilots decided to take concerted action by taking time off sick at the same time on 5 October 2017 [...]. In so doing, they stranded hundreds of passengers among whom were patients travelling for medical treatment, severely disrupted the service and gave the airline a bad name abroad, especially given that Mauritius is a prime tourist attraction. In monetary terms, the loss of Rs220 millions advanced by the PM Pravind Jugnauth seems quite on the low side since there are severe consequential losses.
The Board of Air Mauritius may indeed have been wrong in not addressing the pilots' grievances, but the pilots cannot be justified for doing what they did in concertation. The Board therefore rightly suspended them during their crisis meeting on 6 October 2017, presumably for breach of contract [...]
Opposition politicians love it!
But politicians in opposition, as usual, made a meal out of this and, against the national interest, came down heavily on the side of the pilots and castigated the Board of Air Mauritius and the government. Paul Bérenger, leader of the opposition MMM, even said that the constitution of the board of Air Mauritius is a « crime », in other words, that the Board members are all criminals. This is outrageous, to say the least. Perhaps the authorities should summon Bérenger to explain his alleged criminality of the Board of Air Mauritius. [...]
However, although one pilot, Frédéric Gébert, having allegedly tendered a letter of apology after his dismissal on 6 October 2017, is reported to have been reintegrated to his post a few hours after sending the letter, the two other pilots, Commander Patrick Hofman and Pilot Bain Ulyate, after having consulted the Labour Ministry, submitted on 16 October 2017 (10 days later) their letters requesting their reintegration within Air Mauritius. The press is making out that the outcome would be favorable. The opposition politicians are already bragging that Air Mauritius is at the mercy of the pilots.
The [...] pilots are free to submit their letters of reintegration but Air Mauritius, as a responsible National Airline, must never reintegrate them. Air Mauritius must not reintegrate the [...] pilots [...]. The decision of the Board to reintegrate pilot Frédéric Gébert is very questionable indeed. Yet opposition politicians find nothing to say about this. This questionable decision is now used to put pressure on the Board to reintegrate the remaining two, Patrick Hofman and Bain Ulyate.
Let the Pilots take the matter to an Industrial Court for alleged unfair dismissal. The chances are that they will lose. Air Mauritius must not yield to POLITICAL PRESSURE from irresponsible opposition politicians to reintegrate the [...] pilots.
[...] The Pilots should take the matter to court if they want reintegration. No one knows what those Pilots will do next if they are reintegrated. No responsible airline can take such a risk.
M Rafic Soormally
18 October 2017