PIA management bans CBA activities

Supreme Court did not order for staff dismissal: Mushahid Ullah

-By Nasir Mahmood

The management of Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) has imposed a ban on union activities through Essential Services Act 1952, which is violation of Basic Human Rights and Industrial Relations Act 2012.

Senator Sherry Rehman a member of Senate Standing Committee on Aviation referring towards this ban said the present management of PIA which mostly consists of serving officers of Air Force who are brought on deputation into the PIA, is taking unlawful actions against the Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) that is the only elected body which represents the low grade employees. The actions of management are entirely in violation of the basic Human Rights and Industrial Relations Act 2012. She urged the PIA management to allow the elected CBA to work peacefully and smoothly in accordance with the provisions of Industrial Relations Act 2012.

Earlier, the Parliamentary body criticised the manner in which airline management had dismissed seven pilots and 73 members of the cabin crew for possessing fake degrees, saying rules were blatantly ignored for dismissal of services. “Terminating the service of staff is a drastic action. Nowhere does the Supreme Court (SC) order the dismissal of staff with fake degrees. The court’s directives are to follow the procedure under the rules,” the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Aviation, Senator Mushahidullah Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) observed.

He said that Islamabad High Court in the matter of fake degrees pertaining to other government departments had passed a strict order which includes recovery of salaries and allowances from such employees. After detailed discussion the entire Committee was of the view that PIA management may follow the decision of the courts. However, a lenient view may be taken against those employees who had given their golden period of life and served for the PIA in difficult times.

Mushahidullah Khan further stated that the order of Supreme Court does not state anywhere that major penalty of dismissal from the service be awarded. He informed the participants that by PIA management while taking the lenient view, 12 employees who were in the list of fake degree issue were allowed to retain their jobs.

Chairman of the Committee while expressing displeasure on non-attendance by the PIA CEO Air Marshal Arshad Malik, who took charge in October, said this was not the first time that he was not present in the meeting. He held the view that important issues are being discussed in the meetings of the Parliamentary Committees, therefore the presence of the head of any organization in the meetings is essential. He therefore, asked the Director (PEC) Air vice Marshal Shoban Nazir Syed to convey the displeasure of entire Committee to CEO for not giving importance to the Senate Standing Committee and further said that in future he should ensure his presence in the meeting whenever required.

He urged the PIA management to take disciplinary action against officials who inducted employees without verifying their documents first, before firing staff with fake degrees. Instead of terminating the service of staff possessing fake degrees, other disciplinary actions should have been taken, such as demotion or stopping increments, he argued.

The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation also inquired Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) management why the airline had decided to sack employees with valid degrees and on whose instruction was this unfair action taken. The sacking decision was not taken on merit by PIA management.

The Committee observed that PIA management while scrutinizing the cases of fake degrees, had not considered all the cases on merit and it was proved that some were awarded major penalties whereas few were given minor punishments on similar charge and even some were given double punishment despite having genuine degree.

It was also observed that in all meetings of the Committee in which fake degree issue of employees was considered, PIA management was not convincingly able to clarify the position whether the actions were in lines with the decisions of the Courts, directives of Establishment Division or decisions of PIA management. The Committee therefore, advised the airline management to furnish the detail on each case which clearly indicates the authority/ decision on which the action had been taken.

Keeping in view the difficulties of employees specially of those who were working for PIA since last many years, Parliamentary body advised the management to re-consider and review all such cases including cabin crew and low cadre ground employees as per previous induction policy on case to case basis and decide their cases by taking the lenient view on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

-Nasir Mahmood

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