By Prior Beharry
CARIBBEAN Airlines (CAL) intends to subpoena doctors who issued sick leave to its pilots who used it to stay away from work causing close to 60 flight cancellations on Sunday and stranding thousands of passengers.
This was stated in a letter obtained by AZP News that was sent by CAL’s attorneys to the Trinidad and Tobago Airline Pilots Association (TTALPA) on Friday.
In the wee hours of Monday, CAL obtained an injunction in the Industrial Court to get pilots back to work after the “sickout” on Sunday.
TTALPA subsequently wrote CAL’s Vice President of Human Resources Roger Berkeley on Wednesday stating that the airline was intimidating, harassing and embarrassing doctors, who issued medical certificates to pilots, by calling them about the intention to subpoena them to testify in the Industrial Court matter.
But a letter sent on behalf of CAL by Marcelle Ferdinand, of JD Sillier and Company, on Friday, stated that the airline was entitled to take such steps given the pending Industrial Court matter.
It stated, “In this regard, it is the practice in this jurisdiction for doctors to be subpoenaed and tested under-cross examination in respect of medical reports or sick leave certificates issued by them to persons who are subject to litigation.”
CAL added, “We therefore deny your claims of intimidation and harassment.”
It stated, “We note further that no person who is genuinely ill and/or no doctor who has properly and validly issued a medical certificate for genuine illness could reasonably feel intimidated and/or harassed and/or embarrassed by the said notification and/or by the prospect of verifying under oath the fact of illness and the diagnosis of same.”
CAL stated, “We therefore consider the contents of your letter to be telling, and we will be placing same before the Court together with our response herein in the captioned proceedings.”
In his affidavit sworn in the application for the injunction, Berkeley said since August 3, 2023, CAL has been engaged in negotiations with TTALPA for a collective agreement for the period 2015 to 2020.
He said up to last Friday, they were still in negotiations with CAL receiving a counter-proposal from TTALPA that it was reviewing.
Berkeley said after receiving the counter proposal last Friday afternoon, he observed that both CAL pilots and reserve pilots were calling in sick.
He said that 20, 19 and 54 pilots called in sick on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Berkeley said CAL had to cancel four of the 77 flights scheduled for last Saturday and out of the 84 flights on for Sunday, 56 were called off.
He said that between Monday (August 21) and Friday (August 25), CAL had scheduled 324 international and 142 domestic flights including ones to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in St Kitts.
Berkeley said that under the law, TTALPA members were prohibited from taking industrial action.
The injuntcion matter will be called in the Industrial Court on September 28.