Monday June 17, 2024

Talks of PIA anti-privatisation protesters with government collapse

By Salman Siddiqui
February 01, 2016

Protesters say they will disrupt flight operations from Tuesday morning; demand new privatisation policy

KARACHI: The anti-privatisation protesters at the Pakistan International Airlines, while formally announcing the collapse of talks with the government, said they would disrupt flight operations from Tuesday morning.

"When we inquired whether the government would revoke the privatisation process if we [the employees] succeeded in turning [the loss-making] airline around in the next six months, the response from the Secretary of Aviation, Irfan Elahi, was in the negative," said Captain Sohail Baloch, head of the employees Joint Action Committee against the airlines' privatisation, at a press conference on Sunday.

Last week, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan had proposed postponing the privatisation process for six months and urged the PIA employees to call off their strike and resolve the issues through talks.

Just before addressing the press conference at the PIA head office, the leaders of the protesters held hours’ long negotiations with the Secretary of Aviation, Irfan Elahi, on a speaker-enabled telephone. 

At one point during the negotiations, Captain Baloch left the meeting room. "The conference is being held to clarify that we have not deviated from our pre-strike four demands," Sohail said. The employees demand of the government to cancel the bill passed by the National Assembly to sell off the airline and to introduce a new aviation policy. "A new policy would help address the managerial issues and turn the airline around," Sohail said.