What most people fail to comprehend with pilots work schedules is the completely disruptive work/life balance.
Those who work 9 to 5 office jobs and have every weekend off and every public holiday off and know, years in advance, when they can book holidays, family gatherings, concerts, nights out etc. etc. etc. often really can’t comprehend a rostering system.
The usual comeback is that ‘you chose that job’ but, as with many jobs, the landscape has radically changed over the past few years with ruthless cost cutting driving the work/life balance into the red.
There appears to be a worldwide pilot shortage on it’s way which is why many employees are pushing for balanced market rates for their employment. That is one of the major driving factors behind this action. Also there is no such thing as weekends or overtime (unless beyond the scope of your roster which is, in most cases, so full you can’t do it anyway) however there is a lot of night working, unsociable hours, short rostering (that party you planned??? Gone at the call from current ops).
Finally, unlike many jobs, our job is often completely ‘transparent’ to the passengers. A ‘good day’ at the office for me is if I have something go wrong with the jet, deal with it, make contingencies, investigate options, come up with a solution and continue and the 280+ passengers in the back have no idea of what has occurred. This hides the value of good training and, probably most importantly, experience where you want to retain your experience levels not financially force them into early retirement.
It’s understandable that the deeper complexities of the job are lost in the public view. We, as commercial pilots, often don’t like to discuss them as we see them as part of the job. When the accountants start cutting through the flesh and deep into the bone though it’s those pilots who often push for better T’s & C’s for all employees at the airline.
I hope that sheds a bit more light onto the subject.