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Remove PIA, CAA heads, aviation minister for transparent plane crash probe: AWP

Karachi

June 2, 2020

Expressing grief over the tragic loss of lives in the recent plane crash of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Awami Workers Party has demanded that a high-level committee comprising experts from international and national aviation and pilot bodies should be formed to probe the accident.

The AWP organised a vigil protest near the site of the plane crash in Model Colony where a large number of the party workers and residents attended the event on Monday. Speakers said that for a long time, the Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (PALPA) had been raising concerns regarding the working conditions of the ground staff and the flight crew. However, the management had been showing consistent negligence towards ensuring adequate safety measures for the PIA staff, they said.

The AWP leaders also expressed concerns over “the fact that a large number of PIA staff consists of daily-wage earners and contractual workers”. They said these workers were deprived of basic rights like basic income, medical facilities, EOBI and other employee benefits. “Neither attention is paid to their training. Similarly, layoffs are also increasing – in the last one year alone, 1,000 workers were fired,” they said.

“Unfortunately, the blame of the tragic crash is once again being pinned on engineering workers and pilots, while the real culprits in the management and the ministry associated with the airline are not being questioned. These workers and low-ranking officers are simply scapegoats,” said Khurram Ali, the AWP Karachi’s secretary.

“The reality is that the ruling class has long been making attempts at destroying the PIA through nepotistic appointments of inept officials, regardless of which section of the ruling class sat in the Centre. Not only has the ruling class minted quite some money in this manner, it has also been thus paving the way for the PIA’s privatisation.”

AWP Karachi President Shafi Shaikh said the current and previous governments were to be held accountable for the tragic plane crash as they led to the bankruptcy of the airline to justify their privatisation attempts. “We also express our reservation on the Special Investigation Board (SIB), that again comprises the same people who are responsible for this tragedy. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for ensuring safe air travel in Pakistan. However, the ineptitude of this department is evident through numbers.”

Protesters demanded that the PIA and the CAA should conduct the International Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) as per the principles of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and IATA, involving representatives of the PALPA, and that safety arrangements for the pilots should be made under IATA standards. They also demanded the removal of the heads of the PIA, the CAA and the federal aviation minister from their posts and enlist them in the probe to ensure transparency.

The AWP leaders also demanded an immediate abolishment of the Essential Services Act and the removal of restrictions on trade unions in the institution. They said the government should immediately give the victims’ families the promised compensation of Rs1 million, whereas an additional compensation of Rs500,000 must also be given to them.