PTUL - Latvian ALPA, is one of the youngest pilot associations in modern Europe. When Latvia had restored its independence 16 years ago, it was necessary to re-establish many public social institutions or create new ones. There was a Trade Unions Law at that time, but nothing was said about associations. So we registered as a Trade Union/Association. Dealing with entirely technical issues, we were recognized as an Association. For all social issues, we are the Trade Union, and are members of Aviation Workers Federation of Latvia. We are both member of ECA and of IFALPA.
When we started at that time, we were only seven pilots and the civil aviation in Latvia was at its lowest point. In the course of time, Latvian Airlines - as a successor of the Latvian Directorate of Aeroflot - had ceased to exist and new companies appeared at the same time. Two of those we all know today, and they are performing well and are expanding.
PTUL is a small union and all our members work here as volunteers. We are now 49 members on the 1st of May 2007. Unfortunately today we, as well as our employers, are suffering from a high in flow and out flow of pilots on the market. It may happen that ten pilots would have left our company whilst you are reading this article, and the plan is for fifteen new ones to join us. It seems this is a problem of many associations in Europe.
One of our main tasks is to create a new pilot union in the company Latcharter, not only as members but also as a particular union. We expect long consultations with its management, which do not yet want to recognize PTUL as an equal partner.
Today we see the boom in aviation transport sector. Trans National Airlines (TNAs) have also not bypassed Latvia and the work that ECA has done on TNA has been very valuable so far. Currently, we are looking for the possibility to "adopt" our Lithuanian colleagues who work for Air Baltic in the neighbouring state, leaving them the possibility to take fully part in Lithuanian ALPA's life. In other words, if we have to solve issues in particular within our Company, then we can be one solid pilot group. But if there are social tasks to be addressed (retirement, Labour Law), then we are independent in our two Associations in each Country. We don?t see problems in this scheme, but we will need a lot of time and personal resources to set this up.
Captain Alelksandrs Bluzmanis, PTUL - Latvian ALPA