Solomon Airlines management threatens to sack local pilots over 28-day notice, Bill Tyson denies
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
LOCAL pilots have been threatened with mass termination by Solomon Airlines management if they continue with their sit-in protest notice, it is reported.
Solomon Airlines’ corporate manager Mr Bill Tyson has partially denied this, saying that it has been ‘taken out of context’.
Local pilots, on legal advice, had responded by issuing management with a 7-day notice letter yesterday to formally respond to their demands.
Last week, on Tuesday morning, Tyson reportedly issued a verbal warning to local pilots that he can have them sacked and replaced by outside pilots, who he claims are willing to come and work ‘for free’.
This has not gone down well with national pilots, with reports that they have been traumatised by Tyson’s reaction to their right of expression against what they deem as ongoing unfairness, which they have had to endure for many years.
Speaking to Island Sun, pilots say they did not expect such reaction from airline’s management, adding that Tyson’s threat causes them to feel insecure, thus ‘impedes into their thoughts constantly’.
A member of Solomon Airlines board, on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussion at the work place, while declining to comment on questions by Island Sun, agrees that Tyson’s reaction to the pilots’ notice is ‘unacceptable and unprofessional’.
“This is an internal matter and I don’t know why media is prodding into it, something that will be addressed in due time, and amicably too. But yes, if what you’re saying is true then his [Tyson] reaction is unacceptable and unprofessional.”
There was no answer to the question – if board will take this incident on board seriously.
Meanwhile, Tyson, via text message to Island Sun over the weekend, clarifies that “This was taken totally out of context”.
“Captain Vonseu and I were endeavouring to arrange a meeting with the pilots. If you know Cornelius well he puts a humourous spin on things as he usually does and he said he would probably be sacked if he didn’t arrange the meet.
“I said that would never happen.”
Tyson adds that management is continuing to seek an amicable resolution to the issue.
“Common logic tells us we could not possibly operate if we have no pilots. It is in no one’s interest not to gain a satisfactory resolution so in answer to your question it is important management continues to seek dialogue and gain an outcome beneficial to all.”
Captain Vonseu could not be contacted for verification to Tyson’s assertions, however, other airline personnel who were present at the time, uphold that Tyson did utter those threats during a heated exchange with Vonseu.
On Thursday, January 25, 2018, Solomon Airlines’ national pilots had submitted a letter putting management on 28-day notice of a sit-in protest if their demands were not met.
The letter contained issues of unfairness which local indigenous pilots say they have endured for years, demanding that the issues be rectified and improved.
It is understood that the letter had been copied to the SolAir board and the Minister of Finance, Hon Manasseh Sogavare, who is responsible for that state-owned enterprise. Island Sun is yet to gauge Mr Sogavare’s views on the matter.
Management in response had requested a meeting with the pilots last week but were refused by the pilots, on grounds that their terms had been presented in black and white, and that management should likewise respond in black and white rather than call an ad hoc meeting.
15 days are left for the pilots’ notice to be enacted.