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Vaccines required to fly… even if you're in the cockpit: Russia's Aeroflot suspends pilots without pay for refusing Covid-19 jabs

Vaccines required to fly… even if you're in the cockpit: Russia's Aeroflot suspends pilots without pay for refusing Covid-19 jabs
Half a dozen pilots working for Russia's main international airline have been grounded and suspended from duty under rules allowing companies to effectively dismiss staff who refuse to sign up for a vaccine against coronavirus.

A spokesman for Aeroflot, which is the country's national carrier and is majority-owned by the Russian state, told business daily RBK on Monday that six pilots had been put on sick leave, without pay, because they had chosen not to receive a jab. However, Mikhail Demin compared this number to the overall size of its workforce, with 2,300 pilots in the company's cockpits.

However, aviation trade union representatives have expressed concern over the airline's stance towards workers. Igor Delduzhov, the President of the Sheremetyevo Trade Union of Flight Personnel, based at Aeroflot's Moscow hub airport, has hit out at the decision to remove the flight staff. According to him, the harsh response to those choosing not to get vaccinated is unwarranted, given around 84% of staff have reportedly already been immunized.

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Companies working in a number of sectors, including transport, as well as hospitality and leisure, are required to demonstrate that 60% of their staff have received a jab or else face hefty fines, under new rules introduced by the government in Moscow over the summer. Officials have confirmed that bosses can send home staff and withhold their salaries in order to meet the quotas.

According to the trade union, the approach being taken by Aeroflot is "causing excessive social tensions," and is going ahead "despite the fact no one obliged the employer to take such measures." Delduzhov claims that a total of ten pilots – including both aircraft commanders and co-pilots – have applied to the union for support over the issue.

The measures requiring public-facing workers to be immunized were signed into force in the Russian capital in June, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases. Since then, similar rules have been introduced in regions across the country.

Also on rt.com Moscow orders ‘mandatory’ vaccination against Covid-19 for some workers serving the public as cases soar in Europe’s largest city

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