PIA has no control over its employees, says chairman

Published: August 2, 2016


With six employee associations and a highly influential collective bargaining agency, the national flag carrier’s management has little practical control over its employees.

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“All the employees that we have, you can’t entirely hold the management responsible for them because the unions play quite an important role in selecting those people,” said Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Chairman Azam Sehgal in an interview with BBC Urdu.

Sehgal explained that there were around six employees associations and unions operating in PIA which all play a significant part in how the airlines operates.

“Cabin crew have their own association, pilots have their own, engineers have their own [and so on]. On top of that we have a strong CBA, collective bargaining agency.” he said. “They have a lot of influence.”

When asked whether these associations were virtually holding the airlines hostage, Sehgal agreed.

“To a certain degree I will agree with you,” he said, pointing out that PIA currently flies only 33 aircraft which require a staff of 4,000 people, but the national carrier was overburdened with a workforce of 18,000.

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He said the influence of the association also hampered the accountability process.

“Even if we reach the right conclusion on accountability, unfortunately taking the next step is always very difficult because of the influence and interference of these unions and associations.”

He said neither company cannot select staff or terminate any workers on the basis of [bad] performance.

Sehgal said that the lack of accountability in the PIA is because of the extreme influence of the unions and associations. “We reach at the right conclusion for accountability but unfortunately taking the next step is always very difficult because of the influence and interference of the unions and the associations.”

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When asked for a solution to this problem, Sehgal said that it can be resolved gradually by keeping all the workers gainfully engaged.

“We will increase the fleet strength to such a level that all the people, who are otherwise unoccupied and busy in politicking, will be occupied with work.”

Talking about the start-stop privatisation process of the airlines, Sehgal said the government initially planned to give up 26% of the airlines to fully privatise the entity.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2016.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • ajeet
    Aug 2, 2016 - 10:28AM

    Just like its strategic assets?Recommend

  • Rehmat Ali
    Aug 2, 2016 - 10:31AM

    These all outcomes of so called democracy.Uncontrolled recruitment on political parties pressure.Govt jobs now become salary without work and accountability.See same Pakistan Steel Mills not operational since last one year and 16000 employees getting salaries though after interval of 3 to 4 months. PIA having 18000 employees. 562 employees per plane.How possible it can be profitable in 100 years? Totally mismanagement and responsible govt and political parties.Recommend

  • Faisal Hamid
    Aug 2, 2016 - 10:51AM

    The responsibility of the management is to rum the institution in a manner that it should work for the betterment of its customer, employees and country.
    If the management in any case not able to do so, then a change should take place in every corner of that institution.Recommend

  • Sheikh
    Aug 2, 2016 - 11:41AM

    And all the six unions are controlled by the ruling political parties to ensure that their people are regularly inducted in PIA. How a commercial organization can run like this?????
    Shame on ‘sham’ democracy!!!!Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Aug 2, 2016 - 11:43AM

    Well we sure hope PIA has control over its planes, especially when flying !!Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Aug 2, 2016 - 1:14PM

    @Rehmat Ali:
    Simple, print more money and put everyone on the payroll ! Doesn’t matter if no one works or is accountable as long as the moolah is flowing. Oh, but I forgot, we import a darn sight more than we export…but who cares, leave those troubles to posterity. What, we worry ?Recommend

  • Majid
    Aug 2, 2016 - 3:00PM


    PMLN is in favour of privatization. There is a group who affiliates themselves to PMLN but PMLN is not bothered about it and you have seen how serious govt. was on privatizing PIA. These bad employees are from PPP and during Musharraf era.Recommend

  • abcd
    Aug 2, 2016 - 3:26PM

    Simple maths….4000 people required for 33 planes……8000 required for 66 planes….12000 required for 99 planes……for approx 20000 people you will need 132 planes running. So to keep these people busy that is the number of planes you need….unless you want to keep them busy boiling potatoes and making potato chips.Recommend

  • Tulla
    Aug 2, 2016 - 3:26PM

    If the chairman has no control over employees, why is he continuing to hold the job and earning good money and perks? Blaming unions and employees is easy way out. A person with conscience and integrity would resign from such powerless situation. Recommend

  • Mastil Khanzada
    Aug 2, 2016 - 4:20PM

    @Tulla I work at PIA and am happy to report that Mr. Azam the Chairman does not take one single dime from PIA or enjoy any perks. He even pays for his own tickets to attend PIA board meetings. The salary paid to him is Rs 0.00

    Understand the facts before painting everyone with same brush. Recommend

  • TAK
    Aug 2, 2016 - 4:36PM

    @AJEET don’t you guys have anything else to do, always acting as Peeping Toms and worried about neighbours, go and find some LIFE Recommend

  • Kiran
    Aug 2, 2016 - 5:06PM

    They all want to sale PIA …that’s y they are deliberately showing negative consequences so make bad image of PIA… it’s an airline not a riskhaw…if management is that bad as they say so they can’t even fly for a second on international grounds across borders…70 %is in control other factors such as unions and management, united are one under the table Recommend

  • Mumtaz
    Aug 2, 2016 - 5:29PM

    Dear Man sb; how such a problem was tackled here was to declare this as an essential service through a parliamentary endorsement and that way the strikes are considered illegal. And when they strike these are the people who need to be rid off, good ones want to keep working. I am not sure what are the legal provisions in Pakistan around that.Recommend

  • Shahid
    Aug 2, 2016 - 5:41PM

    @Tulla: Be realistic. Easier said then done. The nation should be thankful to the chairman for still staying and not give up.This guy can get job any where. Recommend

  • Autobot
    Aug 2, 2016 - 5:58PM

    14,000 unnecessary people on the payroll all funded by me, the tax payer. And it makes me very angry. Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 3, 2016 - 12:04AM

    Disgraceful situation……thanks mainly to PPP’s policies ….and PML’s inability to do the right thing.Recommend

  • Ishtar Salim
    Aug 31, 2016 - 12:55AM

    @Mastil Khanzada:
    Ok agree but what is the solution as u r working in PIA..? Recommend

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