The national airline proposed a plan to lay off 30% of its staff due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Rabat – Pilots of Morocco’s national carrier, Royal Air Maroc (RAM), have expressed willingness to reduce their salaries in order to avoid the layoff plan the company has announced.
In a letter from the Moroccan Association of Airline Pilots (AMPL) and shared by Le360 on August 17, the pilots said they are ready to reduce their salaries for an equivalent of the savings RAM would make by laying off staff.
The letter came after the association held a meeting on August 13 with a regional committee responsible for authorizing RAM’s layoffs. The meeting focused on the layoff of 140 Casablanca-based RAM employees. The number includes 65 pilots, 59 flight attendants, and 16 employees from ground staff.
At the end of the meeting, nine members voted in favor of RAM’s layoff plan, including four government officials and five representatives from the General Confederation of Enterprises in Morocco (CGEM). Meanwhile, five union representatives opposed the plan, arguing that it has several irregularities.
The August 13 meeting was one of many regional meetings to discuss the particular situations of RAM employees concerned by layoffs. In total, the airline plans to dismiss nearly 30% of its staff, estimated at 858 employees, including 150 pilots.
RAM’s administration board began discussing the layoff plan after the company experienced the “worst” crisis in its history. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the airline is estimated to lose MAD 50 million ($5.4 million) every day.
In Monday’s correspondence, AMPL described RAM’s plan as a “manifest non-compliance with the law and the need to preserve employment.” The association questioned the “impartiality and independence” of the regional committee that was formed after RAM announced its plan.
According to AMPL, this type of committee should have legally pre-existed before the layoff decisions. The pilots suggest that the committee was created with the objective of “authorizing at all costs the layoffs requested by RAM.”
The association also criticized the speed at which the committee issued a decision, saying it did not give enough time to investigate RAM’s layoff request in both its form and content.
AMPL claimed to have written to RAM several times in recent months to inform the airline of its readiness to conduct negotiations and consultations to respond to the crisis.
“These letters remained mostly unanswered and had no effect,” the pilots lamented.
The association also claimed that staff concerned by the layoff plan never received documents explaining the detailed economic situation of the company and the reasoning behind the layoffs.
“These important documents were also not handed over to the regional committee, thus rendering futile any attempt to investigate the situation and the procedure justifying the layoffs,” the letter said.
“How to rule in good faith and impartially … if all the preliminary steps including consultation, negotiation, transmission of documents, and investigation required by the Labor Code have absolutely not been respected?” AMPL asked.
Recalling King Mohammed VI’s 2020 Throne Day speech, in which the monarch invited all Moroccans to join their efforts to meet today’s challenges, the pilots said they are “ready to take charge, by a reduction in their salaries that corresponds to the amount from which RAM would benefit with its layoff plan.”
The association also proposed a “complete freeze on the payment of variable bonuses for all staff benefiting from them … as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues.”
According to financial figures from 2018, the suspension of bonuses would save the airline MAD 154 million ($16.7 million) for flight crews and MAD 67 million ($7.3 million) for ground staff, AMPL explained.
“We have repeatedly tried to offer this to RAM, but without success. The [airline] is still refusing any form of consultation and dialogue despite our numerous … requests,” the letter concluded.