Lebanon pilots strike after sick colleague fired

Middle Eastern Airlines' pilots are striking for 2 days after a colleague was dismissed while undergoing cancer treatment. Photo / Thinkstock
Middle Eastern Airlines' pilots are striking for 2 days after a colleague was dismissed while undergoing cancer treatment. Photo / Thinkstock

Pilots at Lebanon's national carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA), overwhelmingly voted in favour of a 48-hour strike in protest at the dismissal of a colleague undergoing cancer treatment.

Captain Fadi Khalil, head of the pilots' union, told AFP that the work stoppage from 2000 GMT on Monday (NZ 0900 Tues) to 2000 GMT Wednesday covered all flights.

"We have a colleague, a captain who has served MEA for 38 years, and as soon as he went on sick leave, they terminated his contract," Khalil said.

He said the pilots were demanding that their sick colleague be given 75 days of full pay and 75 days of half pay, in accordance with Lebanese law.

Khalil said the company was offering compensation, but outside the framework of the law.

MEA chairman Mohamed El-Hout, however, dismissed the strike call as "illegal and arbitrary," and said the company's board planned to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

"You cannot announce a strike at 5:00 pm for the same evening," he said, adding that the company in the past had given similar compensation to other sick pilots.

"They are portraying the company as inhumane and this is not justified," El-Hout told AFP.

He did not believe all pilots would follow the strike call and said that flights to Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt and London were still on schedule for Monday evening.

- AFP

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