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Many Pilots Accuse VNA of Unfair Treatment, Ask to Collectively Resign


Vietnam's national airline finds itself in hot water.

A number of Vietnamese pilots from Vietnam Airlines (VNA) collectively submitted their resignation letters in May on the grounds that their salary is dismal compared to their foreign colleagues' and compared to that of other airlines.

Some pilots called out the carrier's unfair treatment towards local pilots, while their foreign peers receive more privileges. Nguyen Anh Tuan, a VNA pilot and flight instructor, shared in an interview with VnExpress that a Vietnamese pilot's salary only equals to 60-70% of a foreign pilot's salary.

Not only is there a pay gap between Vietnamese and foreign pilots, according to co-pilot N.Q.T., foreign pilots enjoy two weeks off after six weeks of working while Vietnamese pilots are only allowed one week off after nine weeks of working.

Along with the resignations, the group of pilots also submitted a letter — accompanied by 16 signatures — to the deputy prime minister requesting help, claiming that Vietnam Airlines' resignation regulations are making it hard for pilots who want to resign.

"We have been bringing this problem up for three years, yet there is no cooperation from the other end. The work environment is poor, causing many frustrations to [our] working condition[s] where safety must be guaranteed. This takes a toll on pilot's mental health. The salary rate for pilots is too low compared to the industry landscape," the letter reads

When it comes to resignations, pilots are required to provide a 120-day notice and pay a fee from VND2 billion to VND3.5 billion to compensate for the training they received from the company. 

In the letter, they point out that the 120-day resignation notice policy, which is rooted in two joint circulars issued by the Ministry of Transport, contradicts Vietnam's Labor Law, which only requires a notice period of 45 days. They add that the company doesn't provide enough documents and bills to justify the compensation fee it demands from pilots. 

Responding to the critiques, a Vietnam Airlines leader explains that "[the company] follow[s] the regulations laid out by the Ministry of Transport's joint circulars, pilots who are trained by the government have the responsibility to pay the compensation when their contract ends." The lowest amount of compensation is at VND200 million.

Deputy Minister Nguyen Nhat from the Ministry of Transport said that because of the specialized nature of the aviation industry and the difficulty of finding a replacement, the resignation notice period is longer than others.

As to why foreign pilots are paid higher than Vietnamese pilots, Nhat said that it is due to the higher cost of living in their home countries and possible additional expenses when working in a different country.

The uproar led Vietnam Airlines management board to call for several meetings with the pilots, in which the board claimed that the average pilot salary at Vietnam Airlines is VND200-300 million a month. For fresh graduates, the number is VND70-80 million a month.

The statement got the company into trouble again, as many pilots pointed out that the number is not true. In an interview with Thanh Nien, one co-pilot said he only receives an average of VND50-60 million a month, while captains generally receive VND100-120 million a month.

The top image is only for illustrative purposes and doesn't depict the pilots mentioned in the article.

[Photo via Zing]

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