KINGSTON, Jamaica – Air Jamaica flight attendants returned to work late Tuesday after an all-day strike over a number of issues relating to wages and fringe benefits, and certain regulations that they have to operate under, including ‘blocking rules’.
Blocking rules are policies that govern the operation of the flight attendants. “The union feels they are outdated and needs to be amended,” says president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Kavan Gayle.
Gayle said the bidding for certain flights, in addition to conditions at a New York hotel at which flight attendants overnight, were some of the issues affecting the workers.
“Staff have been exposed to rats in the hotel,” Gayle explained, adding that operation faults have also resulted in the flight attendants not getting the flights that they bid for.
The BITU president said starting Wednesday at 2.30pm, the union, Air Jamaica and Ministry of Labour officials were to commence discussions on the issues. “We have been trying to have discussions with the company but have failed, so the ministry has had to intervene to facilitate the negotiations and it is against that background that the workers have gone back to work,” Gayle stated.
As a result of the back-to-work formula, there will be no victimisation on either side, was the agreement reached by all parties involved, the BITU president told The Gleaner.
The strike saw some 38 flight attendants staying off the job, while passengers were left stranded at both the Norman Manley and Sangster International airports. This resulted in the cancellation of eight flights to North America and Curaçao.