Korean Air fires pilot for hampering flight by joining work-to-rule action

March 7, 2016

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s top flag carrier, decided to fire a pilot on Monday for rejecting the company flight order and hampering normal business operations to follow the work-to-rule campaign underway since the “yes” vote for a strike last month, company officials said.

The decision to dismiss the pilot, only identified by his surname, Park, was made earlier in the day by the company’s qualification review committee, according to the officials. Park reportedly plans to appeal the dismissal decision.

Park has been accused of “intentionally” delaying the takeoff of a plane bound for Manila and rejecting the company order to fly it back to Incheon, citing what he claims were excessive work hours.

Labor union officials argued that he rejected flying back since it would run against the rules that ban a 12-hour consecutive flight within a day, which is in line with their order to stick to working rules.

Korean Air pilots voted yes to go on strike on Feb. 19 as their leaders and company representatives failed to iron out differences on salary and working conditions.

Pilots sought a 37 percent hike in wages for themselves, while the company proposed a 1.9 percent increase, which it said is on a par with the wage growth rate for other non-pilot workers. Since the yes vote, they have engaged in the work-to-rule scheme in which they stick to all work-related rules and regulations.

Under Korean law, they have to keep a certain level of flights up and running even if during a full strike as it was designated as a critical industry for public interests. The law was enforced in the wake of their strike back in 2005.