To pay or not to pay??????????

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dmfoqs
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To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby dmfoqs » Wed Mar 10 2010, 23:13

After paying what at the time was my whole life savings back in 1990 to obtain my commercial licence i ended up working for nearly 1 year every weekend at a Bankstown training/charter company- for free. As grateful as I was to get the experience I vowed if I was ever in the position of employing pilots I would pay them. At the time Lloyds were looking for 10 co pilots at their new Esso contract in Sale and luckily I was employed as the 11th pilot, I ended up flying SAR in Wollongong and then off shore in Darwin. At the time i was married with a baby, money was scarse. In 1992 I moved to Sale with Esso as a Co-pilot and remember being contacted by social security being told that my income was so low that I was entitled to welfare benefits. The captains at Esso were paid extremely well compared to other home based offshore pilots. As it turned out I tendered for the co-pilots contract and through this entered into a letter of agreement with the AFAP to raise the award wage for co-pilots from around 50% of a captains award wage to 75%. I was not successful with my tender but the wage agreement was accepted.
I joined Helicopters Australia and was transferred to Dampier flying NVFR on a 206 and as the Base manager, once again amazed at the wages. I remember the lines men who tied the iron ore ships up earning excessive amounts above me, and LLoyds, Bristows and Helicopters Australia all undercutting each other to get the contract. Marine pilot transfers at the time were on the on shore award. A commissioner Palmer was travelling around Australia looking into awards and I ended up giving a presentation to him, with some excellent assistance from two Jayrow pilots and no assistance or moral support from my own company pilots working close by. I was the only marine pilot rep at the meeting , the room was full of offshore pilots viaing for better conditions. Soon after Marine pilots were placed on to the off shore award. I myself ended up having a base check after flying all through the night, having to perform 24 autos in a row with sleep deprivation. The thing that blew me away was that the contract stated that what ever the award wage was it was passed straight on to the company who held the contract, so the extra wages the NVFR marine pilots received from going from the on-shore to the off-shore award did not cost the company I worked for a cent. Hamersley Iron were amazed at the mentality of the aviation companies. The cost variance between sending a helicopter out to drop a pilot off or pick a pilot up was nothing compared to sending a tug boat out fully manned and then the ships captain had to climb up/down a rope ladder on the side of a rolling ship, the ships captains hated going by boat , safety being one of the main reasons. I then ventured into tourism. Having purchased my own helicopter in the Whitsundays and sub contracting to a local tourism company I was renumerated with a hourly rate for the aircraft, at the time it seemed like a good idea , when things were busy I made a great wage, when the weather set in no flying, no income. Then I started Aviation Adventures, slowly the business grew. I have always paid my pilots that have worked for me, when they start with a bare licence or little experience below the award wage but once they get around 1000 hours around the award wage. Even to this day i speak with pilots who are still working for free- here is my pondering question.
Due to financial constraints and my principals I have only put on pilots when i can afford to pay them. I could have employed over the past 9 years alot more pilots not paid them but given them a chance to get some experience , meet people in the industry and maybe assisted them into a paying job quicker. Which is the better way????
LivinAtLarge
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby LivinAtLarge » Wed Mar 10 2010, 23:50

My first job and I am sure I am not alone, was a very underpaid job. But to be honest I was just happy I did not have to pay for any more flight time. I also used that job, to not only build time, but to also net work in the industry. This in turn led me to the next job, which paid more...... and on and on this went until I finally had the experience to get a good wage.

In saying that. Before I took the big leap of faith and dropped 50K+ I also knew that I needed enough money/support to get me through the first year or so, as I knew I would be getting paid next to nothing. Any new pilot out there that thinks he/she is going to get his freshly minted licence and start making good money, needs to think long and hard about what he/she is getting into. Any civilian helicopter pilot can attest to that.

So with out little companies taking on the fresh pilots, there would be no pilots. It is a scratch each others backs situation. The small companies could not survive if they had to fork out big wages and the new pilot could not survive with out the little companies hiring them on with no or very little experience. There are very little profit margins in helicopters with small operators.

I say leave it up to the pilot. If he wants to fly for little money, then give him a chance to do that. It is just the way it is. When he gets enough hours he will surely move on. It is more like work experience, an extension or continuation of his/her training.

For all those guys out there saying "We deserve to be paid more, we just spent all our money on training" etc etc and we have seen all the arguments on other threads. You should of done more research before you took the plunge. All you are going to do is put little companies out of business and no newbies will get hired....

I think you should pay what you can afford. Like I said let the newbie decide. I can guarantee you he/she will jump at the opportunity. But know and help them move on when they have enough experience/hours. Just treat them with respect and not as a child.

Just my thoughts.

LAL
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Helix
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Helix » Thu Mar 11 2010, 00:07

Your way sounds the best pj.

Ethical and moral integrity is always appreciated.
Being paid below award initially while one "learns the ropes" is more than fair. An apprenticeship?
Upon reaching the required standard and experience being paid the proper award wage? More than fair again.
It shows a respect for those so employed.

One may be able to help more with not paying people but at what long term cost?
Disrespect? Disloyalty? Discontent? Disgust? Disregard for safety?

You may be have only helped those that you could pay but those you did help I'm sure appreciated such.

Being "employed" for no wages or salary is a cop out for unethical criminal thugs who just don't care for anyone but themselves.
Image before substance. Money before ethics or morals.
Your experience in the Pilbara is of the same ilk.
In a similar operation I have "Been there, done that", also.

Good luck in your future pj.
If I had the liquid finance and the ability to take on a nice tourism operation in the Whitsundays, I would.
Nice post. Ta.
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Leethallee
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Leethallee » Thu Mar 11 2010, 01:01

Great Post PJ, and congrats for getting so far with your career.

I'd just like to add something if I may,
working for free should be seen as a 'work experience' and not a full time position!!! There is no ethical or moral reason that an operator should exploit a junior/budding pilot past a 'reasonable time' without pay, and further to that I'm certain it is illegal to have someone work for you without remuneration!
And to top it all off, if you are "not on the books" you are not on the insurance either!!! Not a problem if everything is rosey but should you be injured by no fault of your own, you may have hells own trouble getting any compensation.
.
Set a time frame you will work for free and stick to it
Set limits on how low you will stoop for those hours
Be prepared to move on if the operator is not 'helping you' advance.

Not wanting to freighten any juniors away from the industry, but to inform them of what to expect. (something I wish I had been told)

Lee
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skypig
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby skypig » Thu Mar 11 2010, 02:58

Set a time frame you will work for free and stick to it
Set limits on how low you will stoop for those hours
Be prepared to move on if the operator is not 'helping you' advance.


I know what you are saying. I totally disagree with guys (and guylets) working for free. I totally disagree” with experienced pilots undercutting others for work (especially when they are “subsidised” by their “day job” (EMS, Off Shore).

BUT, I don’t think you should put any limits on how long you will, sell tickets, sweep floors, work for insulting money. I do think you should move on as soon as you have the chance. Someone like Captain Pete, earns the right to loyalty/notice by paying/playing fair. If you are working for nothing, you can leave the moment something better comes along – no matter how long it takes to come along.

Enjoy the flying even if you aren't getting paid.

Sky "World is NOT right" Pig 8) 8)
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Whoosh » Thu Mar 11 2010, 09:15

If helicopter operators cant afford to pay pilots, who by definition are highly skilled and highly qualified regardless of hours then either their operations are not profitable, they want to keep too much money for themselves or more likely the whole industry underprices itself in the market. Do the math, on a cost benefit analysis the use of helicopters as a mode of transport or operating platform is competitive against other options, they also offer operational benefits not available to other modes of transport, so.....let every operator in the country unilaterally agree to increase prices across the board by 10% from 1st July. Fuel companies do it, grocery stores do it, banks do it....why not helicopter operators????
Then we can all share a reasonable return for our investment, whether it be in an aircraft or licence to fly it. :D
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Juzz » Thu Mar 11 2010, 09:20

I'm a newbie that has only one more day of work before I venture off into the unknown to find my first real flying job! I'm excited to see what will come of the next few weeks/months but I have to admit i'm unsure of what to expect. I think that if an operator offered me unpaid flying work I wouldn't be sure if they are trying to help me out or trying to exploit me. But in saying that I would probably accept unpaid weekend work while looking for a full-time position. Mostly because I just really want to fly, but I don't think i'd be able to pay for anything more than rent if I have to live on the dole!
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby LivinAtLarge » Thu Mar 11 2010, 09:35

[quote="Whoosh"]If helicopter operators cant afford to pay pilots, who by definition are highly skilled and highly qualified regardless of hours[/quote]
Your having a laugh mate :?

I would say most are more of a liability than anything. Especially if it is a turbine they are flying. (over torque, over temp etc etc).

I still think you should get paid, but only relative to their experience. Nor should you expect to get paid a large wage just because you now have a printed licence.... that licence is a licence to learn more than anything.

I would like to know how many pilots, after coming out of flight school, walked into a good paying job. :roll: Yet it is easy to sit back in that well paid job and say, narr you should not work for peanuts.

Operators are struggling now and you want them to raise their prices??? Yes I am sure their are some operators out there doing well and exploiting their pilots. But I doubt there is too many of them around.

LAL
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby RatioCination » Thu Mar 11 2010, 09:48

What other industry expects you to work for nothing? Imagine walking into a hospital and being treated by a junior doctor who then told you he was there in his own time and not being paid!

I see it a blight on our industry... If the aircraft is flying and people are paying then the pilot is as integral as the fuel... It is not okay to work for nothing! Imagine if passengers found out that you did the work for free? What does that say about the operator! What other corners are being cut? It actually says a lot more about a "so called employer" then it does about a low hour impressionable pilot... If you are working as a pilot in even the most simple operation and someone is paying for the flight, you by law, NEED to be paid... Period. )c/
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Skywork » Thu Mar 11 2010, 09:58

pj wrote:when they start with a bare licence or little experience below the award wage but once they get around 1000 hours around the award wage.


You sound like a great guy PJ. give some one a job but pay them below the award. Was it to pocket more money for yourself or is the business not that viable to pay what the award is and what they are entitled to. I try not to get into these but people who pay below the award give me the $hits just like the pilots who take up these positions . If everyone was paid what they were entitled to all these newbies would be on level pegging anyway. So my loader driver who got 70k last year makes new pilots look a joke.
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Hugh Bosh
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Hugh Bosh » Thu Mar 11 2010, 10:01

Simply put, we live in a society whereby all employees should receive fair remuneration for a fair day's work. There is a good reason why we have employment legislation in Australia which attempts to protect workers .

The problem, of course, lies in the high cost of training. (Some) Junior pilots rationalise that it is better to work for free (the means) because it will lead to a better paying job in the long term (the end). It becomes a race to the bottom which is ironic given how much is forked out to earn the right to EARN A LIVING from your flying in the first place ie a commerical licence.

PJ - I like your system. However, I would make one crucial modification to the plan. Anyone that I employed that I paid below award wages, would be clearly informed that they are being employed and paid as a hangar rat and not as a pilot. I would encourage them to gain experience, give them opportunities where they arose, and reward them for their loyalty by employing them as line pilots when the inevitable happens and people move on.

Business is hard, very hard but the most successful businesses are the ones with scruples. If you can't afford to pay your employees, don't employ them and look at your business model because either it's broken or you're in the wrong business. Yep, things are very tight in aviation but that's a competive market for you.

You can dress it up as giving them a hand up, or 'invaluable experience' or some other platitude to make it sound better, but in the end unless you're paying them the award wage, it's exploitation, morally questionable and illegal.

Some points to note:

Minimum wages are laid down in state and federal legislation and awards and must be complied with.

Employers who are not bound by awards must pay at least the national minimum wage which is adjusted and published by Fair Work Australia.
Last edited by Hugh Bosh on Thu Mar 11 2010, 13:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby helimusterer » Thu Mar 11 2010, 10:53

Hugh says all there is to say on this thread. Award wages are set by the state and are not up for amendment or reduction at employers will, as stated this is now LAW, either abide by it or take your business elsewhere. A few more employers prosecuted for not abiding by the law might see a fair system come in to play for all employees in aviation not just the ones at the top with the exp.
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Hugh Bosh
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Hugh Bosh » Thu Mar 11 2010, 11:53

But in saying that I would probably accept unpaid weekend work while looking for a full-time position. Mostly because I just really want to fly,
:roll:

And herein lies the root of the problem! (sigh)
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Banjamin James » Thu Mar 11 2010, 11:54

The conundrom has always been this.

Do we accept lower pay in that first job just to get a start, which in turn may lower the pay rate for the next job and the next and so on affecting everyone up the food scale (yes fresh CPL's, that's why everyone hates it when you want to work for free).

Or

Do we have less pilot's employed at one time, but have a better a pay scale for those that do have a job.

Of course it will always be a problem when people are fresh and excited to just be "a pilot" and money is not on the top of the priority list.

The only method that could change this I can see is a national traineeship scheme. Only those that are accepted by a business as an award wage employee can be provided commercial level training. But there are big problems with this, namely flight schools would be pissed and will try to find any loopholes around this they can (fair enough, they are a business), and also it means there will be a whole lot of PPL's out their looking to undercut those who don't have any flying experience in obtaining these traineeships.
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Hugh Bosh
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Hugh Bosh » Thu Mar 11 2010, 12:02

Do we accept lower pay in that first job just to get a start


No, you accept the AWARD which is the minimum you are legally able to be paid as a professional pilot. That's the law. Whether the award is sufficient or not is an entirely different argument.


For those that are interested the Air Pilots Award 2010 is here: http://www.fwa.gov.au/documents/modern_awards/word/MA000046.doc
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby torquenut » Thu Mar 11 2010, 12:53

In my opinion the award, although "legal", is not viable for most operators to pay a fresh CPL.
After all they only make money when the machine is working....
The work is often seasonal, and you should approach your first few years as an apprenticeship.
I would never work for free, and in my first flying job I felt lucky to be paid $35 per flight hour.
Some weeks that was a great wage, but other weeks, when the weather wasn't so good and I was only getting a few hours it wasn't so good.
(Especially heading back into work on a Friday night for a 5 min scenic ($3.50 for the flight)!!)
If you've done your research before getting into this game you should know what to expect.
Once you've done a few years (apprenticeship) then you're on your way.
Specialize - Multi IFR / Longline etc you'll start to do very well in a job you love.
Regrets? None. Hard times along the way. Loads.

I would be interested in hearing how many people were paid the award straight out of flight school?
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby UnObvious » Thu Mar 11 2010, 12:57

Once again, a touchy subject, with opinions on both sides of the fence.

I have to say until recently, I was on one side of the fence, but having been given an opportunity with a company recently as a low hour pilot, I have climbed that barb-wire and am now firmly on the other side of that fence. However, I haven't moved into the sheep paddock beyond it.

Working for free? No, not good.

CPL being a license to learn... Heck yes.
When I got my CPL I thought I knew everything, I'd been told lots of scenarios by my instructors, and had done loads of autos.
An engine failure and an incredibly small amount of experience later, my viewpoint has changed.

Sure, being paid the award would be gold. I'm not being paid the award, but I'm getting some solid flying time and some really good experience, which will lead me to much better things in the future.

Imagine if every pilot was paid the award. Wouldn't that be great? Think for a second. Every. Pilot. Paid. The. Award.

According to the link Hugh posted, that means a pilot driving a twin engine helicopter over 9000lbs with nine years experience should be paid $54 228. Makes sense right? Is that what we all aspire to? $54 228 a year? Why not take the hit for a few years while you get some experience (which only comes with time) and then earn triple the award. Worth a thought.
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Hugh Bosh
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Hugh Bosh » Thu Mar 11 2010, 13:10

Mate, it doesn't matter if it's viable or not. The employer has no choice - even if you happen to think you're getting a good deal. You can't opt out of the law. You saying that it's "Legal" but not viable is like saying 'jeez, there's really not much of a margin in the restaurant business' and therefore an owner should only really have to adhere to those laws (food hygiene regulations for instance - very expensive to run those fridges) which suit his current financial situation. Oh, because there is so little margin in it, he should pay his wait-staff at $5 an hour (below the award, illegal, but viable if he wants to keep his restaurant open). :?

There are many non-aviation businesses that would like to employ people at less than the award wage too. No reason why aviation should be some special case. If it's not viable, then the employer shouldn't employ them. The situation you are describing Torquenut, sounds like casual employment. Different kettle of fish but since we're on the topic, here are the 2010 award details for a casual employee:

11.3 Casual employment
(a) This clause does not apply to employees engaged in aerial application operations.
(b) A casual pilot will be paid per flying hour at the rate of 1/800th of the annual salary prescribed for the class of work performed (including additions to salary).
(c) A casual pilot will be paid in addition to the amount in clause 11.3(b) an amount of 25% for each hour. This loading is instead of entitlements to leave and other matters from which casuals are excluded by the terms of this award and the NES.
(d) Casual pilots must be paid at the termination of each engagement, but may agree to be paid weekly or fortnightly in accordance with usual payment methods for full-time employees.
(e) On each occasion a casual pilot is required to attend work the pilot is entitled to minimum payment as follows:
(i) for a tour of duty or stand-by away from the airport up to four hours, a minimum of two hours pay; and
(ii) a tour of duty or stand-by away from the airport exceeding four hours, a minimum of four hours pay.
(f) For the purposes of calculation, payment is to be calculated for each flying hour or part thereof.


UnObvious - Isn't that the beauty of a competitive wage market eh? The industry requires skilled, experienced ME IFR pilots. They don't grow on trees and therefore industry (and therefore the customers) pay accordingly. The award is there to protect those at the bottom end of the industry (from ourselves it seems...) where the oversupply exists, not the top end where the big boys can clearly look after themselves.
There is no logical relationship between the underpayment of new CPLs and the very comfortable wages paid to off-shore/EMS drivers, all of whom are on individual contracts or collective agreements.

Any employer who is not paying his pilots the award is simply exposing themselves to legal action they can probably not afford:

Prosecution

The FW Act empowers inspectors to investigate breaches of awards and agreements. Inspectors are appointed by the Fair Work Ombudsman under section 700 of the Act. If, on investigation, the inspector considers that there has been a breach of the agreement or award, they will usually attempt to get the employer to rectify it. If the employer fails to rectify the breach, the inspector may then prosecute the employer.

The legislation protects employees from any discriminatory action by an employer as a result of an employee making a report about breaches of employment conditions. Underpayment of wages, or non-payment, is considered to be a breach.


Employees also have recourse to civil action for Breach of Contract, or Breach of Award or Agreement.

Why would you place your business in this position?


http://www.lawhandbook.org.au/handbook/ch15s01s07.php
LivinAtLarge
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby LivinAtLarge » Thu Mar 11 2010, 14:55

You know it just cracks me up when people compare this job to another ie a restaurant. It can not be compared, it is it's own monster.

I think it is safe to say no body should work for free. So lets not make the argument about not getting paid. But getting the award to a newbie in some cases is just not feasible. We all had to cut our teeth somewhere. Let be known to every newbie that this is what you should expect.

Hugh,
It seems to me you are one lucky guy to walk into a job with a freshly minted pilot licence and get the award. My hat is off to you. If this is not the case then that just makes you a hypocrite. But do not judge the guy that is giving up a lot to fly for a living, knowing full well what he/she was in for.

You can site the law all you want.... that is not how it works though.

And around and around it goes.

LAL
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Re: To pay or not to pay??????????

Postby Banjamin James » Thu Mar 11 2010, 15:07

Okay here is a prickly one for everyone then :twisted:

Sure, being paid the award would be gold. I'm not being paid the award, but I'm getting some solid flying time and some really good experience, which will lead me to much better things in the future.


In the meantime you're earning the operator exactly the same money as a more experienced pilot when you are flying the helicopter. Unless of course the operator says to the pax "I'm sending you up with an inexperienced pilot who isn't get paid much, therefore your flight will be cheaper"

:lol:

/runs

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