PIA employees sacking: non-professional attitude

-By Nasir Mahmood

 

Termination of 121 employees from Pakistan International Airlines including Pilots, cabin crews and low ranking staff by the non-professional management has become laughing stock. Another 377 disciplinary cases were pending against various classes of employees in the PIA for submitting fake or tampered with educational documents, according to the airline spokesperson.

On 7th May the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation called upon the PIA management. The committee met for the sixth time to discuss the issue of PIA employees. Most of the committee members held that terminating staff from service was a drastic action. The Committee referred to the 12 employees who were allowed to retain their jobs in 2017. “If PIA took a lenient view for some, its management should show similar compassion to all its employees and retain them, instead of laying them off. PIA has a category of minor punishment which can be handed down to employees possessing fake degrees,” said committee chairman Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the PML-N.

The PIA management maintained that it is following Supreme Court orders to take necessary action against staff possessing fake academic records. But members, especially the chairman, argued that the SC had not ordered sacking of the staff.

In this regard cases were pending with the courts where airline management does not bother even to file its written statement to defend its action. A senior air hostess Samina Saleem Qureshi (P-549 3), Pakistan International Airlines Public Limited Company (PIACL) filed a Suit in the court of Senior Civil Judge, Lahore against Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chief of Flight Operations and Chief Human Resource Officer, Pakistan International Airlines. The civil suit was filed for declaration under section 42 of the specific relief act 1887 along with permanent and mandatory injunction against the impugned dismissal letter dated 27-12-18.

According to Plaintiff the Pakistan International Airline Training Certificate & Qualification Manual Edition -VI had prescribed basic requirement for the training and licensing of the newly recruited Cabin crew with 18 years of minimum age and with a Higher Secondary School Certificate. She had completed Matriculation (Science) from Government High School, in 1981, whereas also her HSC examination (Arts) from Government Women College, Multan in 1984.

She applied for the training of Cabin Crew and submitted all the necessary documents with the application file including all educational documents including Matriculation & HSC degrees in 1996. After complete verification of documents she was issued offer letter to join the Airline as Airhostess on 10-01-1996. Due to excellent performance the airline management absorbed her service permanently on 16-07-1996. Later, she was promoted as Senior Airhostess from PG-IV to PG-V on 29-05-2008. She was also awarded with number of appreciation letters by the management during her excellent professional flying career.

The Plaintiff submitted that the new management of the PIALC who had taken over illegally and unlawfully in the month of November 2018, without any lawful authority and approval of the Federal Government in order to facilitate their blue-eyed Cabin Crew from other airlines started to harass the regular Cabin crew of the PIACL. She, being an active and regular member of PACCA raised her voice against the illegal appointments and acts of the defendants, whereas the defendants threatened that if she did not stop protesting against them, she will face serious consequences and may even be terminated from the service of the PIALC.

However, without any fear she continued rising her voice for the rights of the Cabin crew. She was also performing her duties peacefully in legal manners, whereas the defendants without any complaint, issued show-cause notice against her that she had submitted a B.A Degree sheet at the time of hiring in PIALC on 03-04-2014.

Samina rejected the allegations leveled in show-cause notice and categorically declared that she had never submitted any B.A degree sheet to the defendants except Matriculation and HSC degree sheet at the time of induction. She was selected as Cabin crew in the airline on HSC basis. Hence, she was never required to appear in B.A examination.

The defendants issued the impugned dismissal letter against her and she was dismissed from the service of PIACL on 27-12-2018. During the course of inquiry the defendants never produced the allegedly claimed submitted B.A degree and simply reliance in the air, hence the allegation of the defendants have no value in the eyes of law, Plaintiff Samina submitted before the court.

She added that the procedure followed by defendants to issue the impugned dismissal letter dated 27-12-2018 was in violation of PIACL service rules and regulations. According to rules a show-cause notice is served to the accused and within fifteen days from receipt of notice, the accused has to reply in written form. Thereafter, within 7 days the competent authority has to satisfy or dissatisfy the reply submitted by the accused. If the authority considers that further investigation is required in light of the reply submitted by accused, the authority shall have to call for notice of inquiry within 15 days of submission of reply by accused. Otherwise the show-cause notice becomes in fructuous and collapsed.

Samina alleged that defendants wanted to hire the Cabin crew from other airlines. Whereas as per judgment passed by apex court of Pakistan 2013 SCMR 352, the management of the PIACL cannot use the phrase contract in the future appointments, where this illegal act of defendants is being challenged by the plaintiff hence the impugned letter is issued to her.

After various dates the civil court issued arrest warrants for four top officers of the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) in the contempt of court case. The court issued bail-able warrants for officers who didn’t turn up before the court carrying progress report of the court orders. The arrest orders were issued by civil judge Muhammad Akram Azad who was also hearing Samina’s petition. The warrants were issued for CEO PIA Arshad Malik, Director Flight Operations Captain Aziz Khan, Chief Human Resource Officer Air vice Marshal Subhan Wazir and Chief Pilot Captains Ali Zaman.

On April 17, 2019, Session Court suspended arrest warrants. The court issued a notice to PIA top officers which sought replies from parties on April 20 while hearing a petition filed against issuance of arrest warrants. The petition stated that the civil judge issued the warrants against law and facts. The officers were facing charges of not restoring Captain Mian Shehzad on his post despite the court orders. The petitioner had challenged his suspension in the civil court.

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