Air Jamaica Strike!

26 03 2008


I had no reason to comment on this issue but after reading the Jamaica Observer editorial today, I felt compelled to say something. The editorial is entitled “Those misguided Air Jamaica flight attendants” and it basically lambasted them for taking strike action and reference was made to one customer’s letter of disgust with the industrial action.

 Ok…well I am no flight attendant, never was and never will be. However, I like to look at things from the “underdog” perspective. As Karl Marx said, the only thing workers have is their ability to sell their labour from one owner of the means of production to another. Doesn’t that make sense? That is why one is able to get a job, paid a wage and when another wage buyer comes along with an offer, we can make that ultimate decision: to stay or not to stay. We are paid a wage for our loyalty as well as insurance that our needs are somewhat satisfied and we will have no need to overturn the place where we work and take over. That is reality. But back to the flight attendants’ issue, while I do not know the intimate details other than what the media has decided to share, I can say that the best way to get some action is to strike unannounced. It is non-effective if people are given notice. There have been threats of strike the world over…..but nothing beats the element of surprise. It says “since you don’t value my work, safety, input, salary, or whatever  my case is, see what it is like in the absence of my services”. I totally agree.

It is human nature to think of self first then others after. Do you think about your boss when your house is on fire? You’re abnormal if you do. Therefore, for the Jamaica Observer to call these people selfish, unpatriotic, misguided or uncaring is just plain ridiculous and unfortunate. Should I care if the cost of a barrel of oil rises for my job or for my pocket when it affects both? Should I be thinking of the economic and social implications of a strike when I can’t buy food or I have to work under the conditions they claim they are? Let’s get real! The point is, people always think of themselves first and their problem is the biggest problem to them as opposed to others.

 So yes Jamaica Observer, it is clear that the thoughts of the flight attendants were entirely of themselves and not that of Jamaica……and?



11 responses

26 03 2008
Global Voices Online » Jamaica: Air Strike

[…] work late Tuesday after a sickout that caused the airline to cancel several flights”, while Jamaican Lifestyle looks at the issue from the underdog's perspective. Share […]

27 03 2008

I agree with you. These persons are in the midst of a very uncertain situation and it is clear that there is very poor rapport between the management and staff. I note also a certain degree of condescension in the tone when the managemnt refers to the line staff – almost like errant children. In terms of an airline protest, there is never a convenient time, but you will appreciate that you have those in the society who believe that feudialism is very much alive and well.

1 04 2008
Deaune Maestas

I understand that people need to make a living, however, my husband and I were forced to endure the consequences of this strike. We had flown to Jamaica to experience our dream wedding and spent a lovely week in Ocho Rios. Upon departure, we were due to fly out at 11:30am on 03-25-08, and were not told until 11:35am that the flight was canceled, even though the airline knew about the strike as early as 5am that day. We had to wait in line for 4 hours while 150 impatient Jamaicans mobbed the Air Jamaica customer service desk and the Americans got screwed for being courteous and patient. We were finally given a boarding pass for the next day’s flight and told the chances of flying out the next day were 50/50. We were shuttled to a Holiday Inn, where we were checked in but then told they had no room for us. We then waited 1.5 hours for the shuttle to come back for us, and then were bused to a second hotel. Upon arrival, we were told that they too had no rooms for us. All 5 flights had been canceled that day, leaving over 1000 travelers with nowhere to go (except those who lived in the area), and we were all competing for rooms. We were shuttled back to the airport, where we demanded a quick resolution from Air Jamaica customer service, and then were made to sit on a bus without AC for 2 hours. We were then shuttled to a third hotel, where we were finally given a room. We didn’t get into our room until 7pm. We were exhausted, hungry, and frustrated as hell. We tried calling Air Jamaica several times for information but there was no answer that night or the next morning. They had told us they would send a shuttle to pick us up the next morning to go back to the airport, but it never came. There was still no answer at the Air Jamaica phone line. I tried several different ways to call our travelers insurance company for help, but apparently it’s impossible to dial an 800 number from there and we didn’t have the direct long distance number. We finally paid for a taxi and when we got to the airport, had to wait in line for another 1.5 hours. When we got to the counter, we asked the Air Jamaica customer service supervisor to reschedule our connecting flight from Fort Lauderdale to Phoenix. She told us she had done so and we were so relieved. Then went through immigration and customs all over again. Then the flight was two hours delayed taking off. When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale that afternoon, we were told we were not booked for any connecting flight. Apparently the Air Jamaica rep in Montego Bay had been lying when she said she had rebooked us. We went to the Air Jamaica desk for help and were told a supervisor would be out shortly to assist us, but he never came out after waiting 45 minutes. Not only that, but the other Air Jamaica reps at the counter were EXTREMELY rude and refused to help us, despite what we had been through. It is truly unbelievable how uncaring and detached ALL of the Air Jamaica reps seem to be. We finally gave up and went to US Airways, who got us onto another flight. We waited another 4 hours, then had to fly to Las Vegas, arriving at 12:30am, then to Phoenix, arriving at 1:15am. We live in Tucson, so had to drive to my father’s house halfway because we were too deliriously tired to drive. We got there at 3am and didn’t get home until noon the following day. Meanwhile, our 3-year-old son, who had stayed in Tucson with his grandmother, thought we had abandoned him for good. My father had to miss a day of work in order to pick us up in the middle of the night. My husband missed two days of work because of this. Of all the Air Jamaica reps we met, either in Montego Bay OR Fort Lauderdale, NOT ONE of them ever apologized on behalf of the airline for our troubles. In fact, they treated us like were were second class citizens and like we should be grateful to them for their service. Now you tell me why I should feel sorry for these people.

1 04 2008

I hear your story however remember the purpose of a strike is to get people’s attention. Yes it is an inconvenience for the customers but then that was the whole point of the strike……that way the point was brought across. Also, I see where there are threats of strike in England from both teachers and the public transportation sector and I am sure if it goes through, the parents may be upset and not to mention the travelling public…..they are really saying “Hey, you don’t value me, so see what happens when I’m not here”. Also, I have seen many US carriers strike as well… I am hoping that you don’t think it’s a “Jamaican” issue…..

2 04 2008
Deaune Maestas

For my husband and I, the worst part about this situation was the completely detached and uncaring attitude of the Air Jamaica reps, both in Montego Bay and in Fort Lauderdale. I believe Air Jamaica has some serious internal problems that are reflected in the attitudes of their employees. It is a shame but I do not believe it will improve and I will never fly Air Jamaica again. And I’m telling everyone I know not to fly with them. There are plenty of U.S. carriers that fly in and out of there without a problem and they certainly would never treat us the way we were treated. Although the flight attendants’ goal was to get the attention of the employer, I believe they have done more damage than good by alienating their customers.

3 04 2008
Justin Myers

Hi, I’m Deaune’s husband and I just got to say, after all we went through at Sangster International airport, the worst part was how we were treated by Jamaica Air employees in Ft Lauderdale, Fl. It was really shocking!

3 04 2008
Justin Myers

and no, I don’t believe it’s a Jamaican issue, it is a Jamaica Air issue. Jamaica Air needs restructuring, the entire airline is unorginized and careless.

Like Deaune said, there are alternatives to Jamaica Air.


13 04 2008

I wonder what these people would think now that it has been declared that American Airlines was flying some very risky planes up in the sky? I wonder if the strike would be more appealing now?

15 04 2008
Deaune Maestas

I can’t say a strike would ever be more appealing after what we went through, but I can say I’m glad we never fly on American Airlines.

21 04 2008
No Nonsense

I am sorry that you had a bad experience and nothing excuses bad manners but is your objective to get to your destination safely or to have the airline employees be ingratiating? You need to consider flight records to make the determination of never flying an airline again. Air Jamaica employees may not be the jolliest but the pilots sure as hell get you there safely and I know from first hand experience that pilots are well trained

22 08 2008

Jamaicangirl, I love yoursite, especially the article on Bhuttoism, which is all too rampant in Jamaica. However I must part company with you on this one. A strike at a time when an airline is on the verge (or has already crossed) bankruptcy cannot be good for anyone in the country, to say the least for these persons jobs. If you analyse things from your perspective, wildcat strikes like these are totally justified. The modern labour relations law dictates that parties try and resolve matters by negotiating before hand. If they can’t resolve it by that means then it should be mediated through the Ministry of Labour. Strikes are a last resort. By all indications this was an unplanned action. I would love if we brought more thought to bear on this question rather than a small man v big bad corporation view.

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