Some 165 employees of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are facing the axe for their active role in the week-long flight suspension of the national flag carrier as the government appears to be in ‘no mood to pardon’ them.
The PIA management indicated the government’s mood on Thursday by sending home 11 contractual employees for their alleged role in the strike that caused cancellation of over 800 international and domestic flights and about Rs4 billion loss to the national exchequer.
A source privy to the development told Dawn that the PIA management had begun firing ‘main characters’ of the strike on the ‘direction’ of the government. “The PIA management issued show-cause notices to another 30 employees on Thursday increasing the total number to 165. Members of the Joint Action Committee of the PIA employees may also face the axe as they have been served with notices,” he said, adding that those served with notices were from all major stations, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta.
They have been given a 72-hour deadline to explain their position. Making a last-ditch effort to save their jobs, JAC chairman Capt Sohail Baloch, deputy convener Safdar Anjum, president Nasrullah and secretary Obaidullah wrote a letter to the PIA management on Thursday requesting it to withdraw the show-cause notices. “As notices have been issued to hundreds of PIA employees, therefore, the issue has been taken up by JAC in the light of a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. He categorically stated after developing an understanding of the problems and grievances of the PIA employees that the matter will be put up before the prime minister as soon as he arrives from Qatar,” the letter says. It said an announcement had been made on the media that all show-cause notices issued to employees were being withdrawn. But it did not mention who made the announcement.
“Without prejudice to the respective rights of the employees and without going into merits of their respective case it is requested that as the matter is being handled at the highest level by the Punjab chief minister, therefore, it is requested that the show-cause notices may kindly be withdrawn and all/any actions already taken against the employees of PIA, including daily wages employees, may also be withdrawn.” The JAC, however, has pinpointed that there are “some officials within the aviation who are bent upon sabotaging the process of amicable resolution”. “This request may be considered on humanitarian grounds and in the interest of PIA. The same has been made only with bonafide intentions to avoid further untoward situation and unrest, so that the interest of PIA and its employees is protected,” the letter said.