The Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka has won a ruling in their favour when the Labour Department endorsed that access to the Colombo Airport Business Class Lounge be provided to the Pilots of SriLankan Airlines when using staff rebated tickets and travelling as passengers.
This was after the management of the airline headed by Chairman Ajith Dias ruled that this privilege be taken away from all staff which included the pilots, barring the luxury to be afforded only to his management team and their respective family members.
Additional Labour Commissioner P.A.S.C. Pathiraja ruled that the pilots be granted access to the airport Business Class Lounge after a complaint was made by the Pilots Guild in this regard.
In a hard hitting exchange of correspondence made between the Pilots Guild and Chairman Dias, the latter went on to threaten the pilots with stern disciplinary action if they resorted to going on industrial action. Chairman Dias’ letter also stated that it was against the signed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two parties for them to do so. This was after the Pilots Guild sent their Chairman a strongly worded letter stating a plethora of grievances and requesting for a meeting.
The Pilots Guild in their letter also accused Chairman Dias and his team of management officials for violating the existing CBA which included the removal of their access to the lounge and behaving with arrogance and impunity. The letter also stated that they would look into avenues of safeguarding the interests of its member pilots.
The management’s continued stance and attempt of intimidating its pilots was witnessed throughout the last year, where at least three pilots (one from SriLankan Airlines and two from Mihin Lanka) were made redundant for simply highlighting and challenging immeasurable flaws enforced by Chairman Dias and his team. One serious safety violation highlighted by Capt. Charles Sirimanne was pertaining to a scheduled flight operated from Colombo to Seychelles. Instead of praising the pilots for their actions, they were shown the exit doors instead.
Meanwhile the airline’s management now demonstrates that selective treatment is meted to those that tow their line.
Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that the management of the national carrier is to recover Rupees 15 million from their now sacked Capt. Upendra Ranaweera from his end of service benefits. This was after he was found to be under the influence of alcohol prior to departure in Frankfurt last year. Capt. Ranaweera’s unaccepted behavior resulted in the flight from Frankfurt to Colombo experiencing a huge delay, besides inconveniencing many passengers and incurring a loss calculated by the airline to be US $ 230,729 ( LKR 34,680,875.99). The said payment is to be recovered under the terms of section 13 of the payment of gratuity ACT no 12 of 1983 (as amended).
However earlier in January of this year, the airline also suffered a colossal loss, when the President of the Flight Attendants Union Sakvithi Senadheera along with his crew refused to fly from Colombo to Bahrain and back. This was as the FAU President stated that he and his team of crew members were going to exceed their flight duty time limits. The flight to Bahrain on that day was cancelled. This blunder created by the Scheduling Department headed by Nalaka de Soysa and overseen by Capt.Rajind Rantunga the Head of Flight Operations was merely brushed under the carpet. FAU President was pressured by the airline’s management into submitting a written apology for his actions. He duly obliged. Whilst no one has been penalized as yet for this fiasco, no attempt has also been made by Chairman Dias to recover that loss.
It is evident that Chairman Dias is now taking after the former Chairman Nishantha Wickrmasinghe, who had a soft spot for the airline’s Cabin Crew, especially his penchant love for stewardesses. (By Janaka Ranaweera)