You will probably have read the story about a Qantas 767 being turned back as it was taxiing because of suspicions the Captain had been drinking. According to reports, the cabin crew were concered about the Captain’s behaviour, called the Operations Manager, the aircraft was ordered back to the stand and the Captain stood down from the flight.
Whilst one must wonder why the First Officer did not do anything, it was good that the cabin crew were able to raise the alarm. They called the airline’s Operation Centre in the full knowledge that, unless the call was entirely malicious, they would not face any disciplinary issue over delaying the flight. Qantas has a very strong safety culture which, like any well-run airline, encourages staff to voice any concerns they have about the operation. It also has strong unions.
In June, Turkish Airlines sent text messages sacking 345 staff (including pilots, cabin crew and engineers) for stopping work in protest against a law to make strikes at the airline illegal.
Turkish Airlines has been condemned around the world for its action and the International Transport Workers’ Federation has arranged protests in a number of capitals and is still trying to negotiate with the airline and the Turkish government.
No one likes airline strikes. Some unions, including those at Qantas, have shown a marked reluctance to move with the times but it is surely safer to fly with an airline where employees feel confident they will be protected when they have concerns about safety than with an airline that wants to ban strikes and will summarily dismiss anyone who attempts to protest.