On Wednesday, all domestic and international flights of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were cancelled, as PIA strike enters second day. It is reported that flight operations have been suspended indefinitely in protest against the privatization of the airlines. PIA strike continues despite the government invoking Essential Services (Maintenance) Act 1952 which takes away several rights from the employees including that of a strike. Under the act, PIA management is to take strict action against those employees that abstain from performing their duty. As PIA strike continues, employees have been warned by the government that they will be fired along with the possibility of imprisonment.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid stated that the prolonged protest was causing massive losses to the national flag carrier. Former federal minister for environment and PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan stated,
Pure and simple, it’s a politically motivated [protest], and the government, after exhausting all its options, has to resort to this extreme measure [imposition of ESMA 1952]
According to the employees the PIA strike is meant to carries a four-point agenda as follows:
- Government should immediately take back the bill passed on January 21 converting the national flag carrier into a public limited company.
- PIA’s employees be provided a chance to reform the airline. If the employees fail to do so, the government will have the freedom to do whatever it finds suitable.
- Privatization, in any form, whether it is in form of a strategic partner or selling 36% or 1% of the organization’s shares, is not acceptable to the employees.
- Government should immediately review the aviation policy and form a committee for this purpose comprising members from PIA employees’ JAC along with PIA experts Khursheed Anwar, Kamran Hasan, and Salahuddin.
Following PIA strike, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requested other private airlines operating within Pakistan to schedule additional flights in order to cater for the stranded passengers. Unfortunately, where on one hand passengers may not entirely be reimbursed for their flight tickets with PIA, on the other, private airliners including Shaheen and Air Blue have increased their fares by as much as 300%. CAA has issued warnings to the private airlines against violating procedures but so far to no avail.You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more updates. Otherwise fill in the subscription box above, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.