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