Flight Attendants Paid As Low as VT2,600 A Fortnight

Air Vanuatu has been the only major Airline flying in Vanuatu for over 17 years, a company dedicated to service.

But is VT2,600 a fortnight sufficient pay for these services?

”Before COVID-19 I was being paid VT20,000 a fortnight,” a source who formerly worked at Air Vanuatu as a flight attendant and wishes to remain anonymous says.

“However, when COVID hit and the subsidy package had run out, Air Vanuatu had flight attendants sign a new contract so that we were only being paid per flight we flew in a week.

“Most times if I did 2 flights I would be getting VT2,600 in a fortnight.”

The former flight attendant disclosed that other flight attendants had struggled with similar situations.

There were bills and rent to pay but not enough money to pay it.

“Some attendants had taken unpaid leave to do registered seasonal work and the company allowed it.”

The repatriation flights had allowed the flight attendants to make more income.

“If I flew a repatriation flight I would be paid VT20,000 and about VT10,000 extra as risk fee.

“But even the repatriation flights were inconsistent,” says the former flight attendant.

However, there were issues with the schedules.

At times there was no rotation of the crew that flew the repatriation flights so some attendants were left without a boost in income.

According to the source, those who had underlying illnesses could not do the repatriation flights so they did not make an income from the repatriation flights at all.

It is alleged the flight attendants’ manager had not been supportive and made no move in talking to Human Resources (HR) on the flight attendants’ behalf so the attendants advocated for themselves.

“A few of us had approached HR but we kept being ignored.

“On one occasion we succeeded and spoke with HR pleading our situation and asking our questions.

“HR answered our questions based on our contracts but at the end of the day HR did not do anything to help with our situations.”

The source had applied for a new job and was accepted.

Upon this change, the person had approached HR and asked for advice on whether it was possible to work on sabbatical but was told that it would not be possible.

“I was advised by HR to resign but I was not told that Air Vanuatu would take VT104,851 from deducting 3 months’ notice from me.

“I was surprised because I was not even making that amount in 3 months working for Air Vanuatu.”

When Daily Post made attempts to talk to current attendants about the allegations, there seemed to be a fear of speaking up in relation to the situation among the Air Vanuatu flight attendant employees.

The Commissioner of Labour, Murielle Meltenoven is not available at this time to make any statement on the allegations.

The Secretary General (SG) of the Vanuatu Council Trade Union, Ephraim Kalsakau, when informed of these allegations says, “If these allegations are true then it is despicable and unacceptable in these times.

“Air Vanuatu should apply what the law says, especially in such times.

“It should find a way to help its workers.”

The SG notes that the worker should not have signed the new contract as it removed all benefits including pay of the last contract.

Mr. Kalsakau advises the former attendant not to pay the VT104,851 and is advising Air Vanuatu workers to join the Union to get the full support of the national Trade Union.

“It is not acceptable for the former worker to pay the value Air Vanuatu asked for.

“When the employer agreed to the resignation letter that the worker had submitted the worker should not have to pay anything to the former employer,” says Mr Kalsakau.

Meanwhile, the Director General of Finance, Letlet August stated that he is not aware of the payments because the Ministry of Finance has still not received the financials from Air Vanuatu.

“This is an unfortunate situation.

“However, it is not only affecting Air Vanuatu but other companies as well.

“VT13,000 pilot salaries and VT2000 minimum for attendants is not good cash from companies to employees.”

The DG suggested that a way in which to resolve this issue would be to inject money into the company so that the workers can be paid what is required by the law.

Posted in: Vanuatu

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