Colombo Telegraph

SriLankan Airlines: Cabin Crew Promotion Uproar As HR Head Pradeepa Kekulawela & Chanaka Olagama Dance The Jig

The Flight Attendants Union of SriLankan Airlines (FAU) has vowed to file a fundamental rights case against the management of the airline after it found its own Human Resources Department headed by Pradeepa Kekulawela and Head of In Flight Services Chanaka Olagama, to be in violation of their signed Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Cabin Supervisor promotions that was concluded recently.

Ajith Dias – SriLankan Airlines

The FAU blamed the Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawela for continuing to conduct a second back to back and flawed interview and selection promotional process where several of its members were unfairly knocked out.

Earlier the Cabin Managers’ promotional intake held a few months ago was also riddled with many anomalies where even that concluded interview and selection process will now be unnecessarily argued legally between the FAU and the airline’s management in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.

According to the MOU signed between the airline’s management and the FAU, the promotional criteria for both Cabin Managers and Cabin Seniors are based on 60% seniority, 20% Written Examination, 10 % Performance Appraisals and 10% Interview.

However many members of the FAU are of the view that Senaka De Soysa the Manager In Flight Services had copied a model similarly used by Emirates Airline to promote its own Cabin Crew. However In Flight Manager De Soysa’s carbon copy of its Middle Eastern competitor’s promotional strategy lacked finesse as opposed to how Emirates Airline conducts its own programme.

The current style implemented by SriLankan Airlines for its promotional process is very subjective and could easily be manipulated to the management’s advantage to promote whomever they wish.

A FAU source when contacted by Colombo Telegraph said “We have credible evidence to prove that our members have been victimized. Majority of the interview and selection criteria has been completed in violation of our signed MOU with the management. For instance two of our members, Shiny Narandeniya and Dilini Wickremarachchi, were well within the top 40 candidates as they had got good marks for seniority, had done well in their exams and had excellent marks also based on their appraisal. But at the interview they were penalized twice, one for a medical leave taken, which was addressed and rectified by the yearly appraisal system in place and the other for a passenger complaint they had in their personal file respectively. Firstly they were penalized on a performance based perspective earlier and then once again further marks were reduced from the actual interview scores after the process had ended. Strangely another four candidates much junior to them and who also scored a few marks less than them at the exam and was placed well down the list was promoted. This unfair practice was employed to discriminate many and to help facilitate those connected to the management.”

“The written examination did have 50 multiple questions. However 10 questions were cancelled when our President of the FAU Dinesh Fernando appeared at the examination hall and pointed out that those 10 questions were not in keeping with the MOU. By this time majority of the candidates had completed the exam and had departed. Accepting their blunder, the management then decided to give all the candidates full marks for those 10 questions. This is a bloody joke. They should have held a fresh exam all together. Also according to the MOU the examiners had to mark the papers and inform the candidates of their marks within an hour of concluding the exam. Here again they did so after four hours, which again was in violation of the MOU. It is this kind of unprofessional and unethical practice that Pradeepa Kekulawela has earned a reputation for being a simply unjust professional. Despite the findings of the Weliamuna Report and being severely exposed in it for his corrupt ways, he continues to curry favour with Chairman Ajith Dias. Mind you now Chairman Dias’ has even decided to hand over the entire Crew Rostering Department to Kekulawela. This is despite not been able to run even a straight forward interview and selection process”.

Meanwhile the FAU also pointed out another flaw to the management where the non-disclosure of the required number due to be promoted had not been advertised in the Staff Vacancy Notice. This was the first and only time that this omission took place after the signing of the MOU, which the FAU also queried in a subsequent letter addressed to the airlines management.

The tendency of the Management of In Flight Services is to promote a lesser number than is required and force the Cabin Crew to work in higher grades on board the aircraft. This shameful management practice of reducing cost whilst compromising service quality on board is done in order to reflect a glossy profit and loss departmental balance sheet.

The President of the FAU Dinesh Fernando could not be contacted for a comment.

However a source from the Human Resources Department when contacted said ” I do agree we could have conducted this interview in a far more professional manner. Our Head of HR Kekulawela will have to sort this mess out, if not he will have to bear the consequences”. (Chamindri Karannagoda)

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