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Monday June 17, 2024

PIA strike can end on PM’s written invitation, guarantee: employees’ body

By Salman Siddiqui
February 07, 2016

KARACHI: Anti-privatisation demonstrators in PIA are ready to resume flight operations if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extends them a written invitation and guarantee,  said Captain Sohail Baloch, leader of the Joint Action Committee of employees .

He said this outside the PIA Head Office where hundreds of employees continued their sit-in on the 12th day.

The Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association (PALPA), a part of the Joint Action Committee, has separately hinted at the ending of the strike. “PALPA members were neither instrumental in halting the flight operations nor can they alone resume it,” said the pilots’ body in a handout.

 “PALPA urges the government to resolve the stalemate so that the flight operations of PIAC may resume at the earliest,” said the handout. Earlier in the day, PALPA President Aamir Hashmi said some 410 pilots are ready to fly planes out of around 450 in total. However, they cannot resume flight operations all alone. Moreover, pilots need security to restore the operations.

PALPA suspended flight operations for an indefinite period on Tuesday (February 2) evening after their two colleagues lost their lives in an anti-privatisation rally marching towards Jinnah International Airport, Karachi.

It was the fifth straight day of the suspended flight operations at PIA. The strike has caused the cancellation of over 500 flights, as the airline used to fly over 100 flights every day, including over 30 on international routes.

Every passing day of no flights is adding around Rs100 million/day losses to the balance sheet of the airline. The cumulative losses have jumped to Rs300 billion over a period of time.

In another development, however, the demonstrators have given an ultimatum till Monday morning to the government to recover their four missing colleagues otherwise they would take to the streets.

“If our colleagues are not recovered, we will participate in the rally announced by the Pakistan People’s Party for Monday in solidarity with PIA employees,” said Nasrullah Khan of the Joint Action Committee.

Moreover, the planned talks between the government and Pakistan International Airlines’ protesters failed to take place on the second consecutive day on Saturday, as both the sides stuck to their conditions for negotiations.

 “The deadlock persisted,” said PML-N Senator Nihal Hashmi, who was part of the initial talks with the protesting employees on Friday.

 “We have told them last (Friday) night to first call-off their strike so that they could advance talks,” he said.

 When asked what alternate options the government has to resume flight operations, he said, “Our action will be very loud and clear.”