28 October, 2021

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SriLankan Airlines: Executive Association Joins Pilots Guild To Oust HR Head

The Executive Association of SriLankan Airlines joined their colleagues from the Airline Pilots Guild Association of Sri Lanka, when they too submitted a letter to the national carrier’s Chairman Ranjith Fernando, stating that they have no confidence in the airline’s Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawala.

APGSL President Captain Ruwan Vithanage

This was after HHR Pradeepa Kekulawala addressed a letter to the Pilots Guild and reiterated that only the APGSL had an issue with him. The APGSL President Captain Ruwan Vithanage had earlier officially complained about HHR Pradeepa Kekulawala to the ongoing Presidential Commission of Inquiry and also wrote to SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ranjith Fernando and the airline’s Board of Directors stating that they had no confidence in him.

The Secretary of the Executive Association of SriLankan Airlines Lakmal Fonseka, addressing this issue, sent in a letter dated 14 September 2018 to SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ranjith Fernando.

Secretary Fonseka wrote “We would like to state, we have very serious issues and our fraternity is most affected due to unprofessional HR practices and abuse of authority in delivering HR related services during the past few years.”

Requesting to meet their Chairman Ranjith Fernando, the letter stated six points such as “Wide discriminative treatment for employees remuneration towards our fraternity, refusing to sign our CBA, Inaction on employee grievances made to HR, Irregularities in granting staff promotions, Irreparable damage to organization culture through unprofessional HR practices, Irregularities across different segment of staff distributing perks and Unethical transfers of employees and terminations” as reasons for their requested meeting.

A member of the Executive Association speaking to Colombo Telegraph on condition of anonymity said “All other employee unions have protection by signing Collective Bargaining Agreements. Since 2015 HHR Kekulawala has been delaying in signing this CBA with us. Staff are not treated equally and fairly. He has terminated many staff for trivial issues. Staff caught stealing are still retained, as their cases were brushed under the carpet. Staff embroiled in human smuggling cases, gold and foreign currency smuggling are still in employment. Other staff who was involved in INAD (inadmissible passengers) cases were transferred for years without inquiry. Take Captain Udita Dnwatte’s case. They fire him for being accused of being under the influence of liquor. It was a false claim which left the then airline’s Pro Tem CEO Rakhita Jayawardena red faced and embarrassed. Then they apologized and struck a deal with him. HHR Kekulawala offered him the post and rank of Captain in Mihin Lanka and asked him for a letter of resignation from SriLankan Airlines. Then when the two airlines merged they recruited almost all the pilots except Captain Danwatte. These are professional behaviours demonstrated by HHR Kekulawala. He recently said he was innocent as he claimed he was the mere messenger and executioner carrying out orders on decisions made by the higher rung officials of the airline. In fact his inefficiencies in advising the senior management of EPF/ETF matters has even dragged the government of Sri Lanka down the drain. The International Labour Organization has summoned the Government of Sri Lanka to provide show cause and explain in front of all member states as to why the national carrier is not enforcing a valid statutory order given by the Commissioner General of the Ministry of Labour on the 16th December 2017″

Pradeepa Kekulawala has been embroiled in much controversy dating back to the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa led regime era.

He was also named in Lawyer J.C Weliamuna’s report when the airline was investigated for fraud and corruption.

However HHR Pradeepa Kekulawala withstood the barrage of claims made by Lawyer Weliamuna, when former Chairman Ajith Dias dismissed the Weliamuna Report claiming it to be baseless.

Living on to fight another day, HHR Kekulawala who joined the airline in 2011, then went on to upgrade his earnings and remuneration package.

According to published Rights To Information (RTI) reports, Kekulawala’s monthly salary now is Rs 998,004 as the Head of Human Resources at Sri Lankan Airlines. (By Janaka Ranaweera)

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Latest comments

  • 16
    0

    Was it ignorance, despair or pure tactics to implement the Employee Assistance Centre (EAC)? Who will entrust himself to a centre that is run under the HR Department with an incompetent and misanthropic head like Pradeepa Kekulawala??

    His comment: „…. The wellbeing of the employees is of paramount importance to us as it ensures that employees stay in a positive frame of mind in order to give their best to the company“ is a hilarious joke and a slap in the face for everyone that was wrongfully treated by him. It would be easier to get rid of him fast and Srilankan Airlines could kill two birds with one stone. Save extraordinary personnel expenses for a badly assigned post in the management and improve the well-being of the people by eliminating one major reason for employee ill-being.

    How could a board except such a low performance, incompetence and cowardice for such a long time? How could all this be hidden for so long? It was high time that all these malpractices were made public and I hope employees like captain Danwatte will come to their right in the end.

    Chapeau to the APGSL and EASLA!

    What is the response of the other unions?? And what is the response of the board??

  • 6
    0

    The sad truth is that SriLankan is not a Business – it’s a vehicle for Criminals and Corrupt Politicians to carry out Theft/Fraud/Racketeering.
    *
    The company is full of “Enablers” who are actively involved in the above or protect those that are.
    *
    Any investigation is blocked or derailed – the Weliamuna Commission Report paints a very accurate picture of the situation at SriLankan. This report is just the tip of the iceberg.
    *
    Not a single person named in this report has been fired or prosecuted.
    *
    “Enablers” are protected at the highest level – Pradeepa Kekulawala is just one example.
    *
    I’ve personally sent evidence of abuse of power by Pradeepa – he’s guilty and needs to be fired and prosecuted.
    *
    It’s disgraceful that Pradeepa is presenting himself as a victim.
    *
    Next – Druvi Perera. His time is up as well!

    • 10
      0

      After all the findings, I am not really surprised that “Baby” Druvi is still on active service. Obviously certain people have a free ticket in this airline despite of missing abilities and skills (landings / disregard air traffic control regulations etc.). He, the former CEOs, and the HHR are not the only examples.

      When will somebody start holding the politicians responsible? It is their interference and assertion of influence in the airline that made all malpractices possible. The political influence is the root of all malady.

      Give the airline into the hands of a small group of independent experts and it would after some financial adjustments flourish again. Other countries with state owned airlines have done that step long time ago and are very successful. Air Traffic has a great future and Srilankan Airlines could be part of it for the benefit of everybody, if only managed properly without political influence.

  • 3
    0

    The PCoI on SriLankan Airlines has let loose more worms than expected. The worms may be used in recreational fishing. There is ample in stock – sufficient to sustain the fishing industry!
    It was Captain Ruwan Vithanage, Chairman of the Airline Pilots Guild Association of Sri Lanka (APGSL) who first stated the stench in the office of the airline’s Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawala.
    Now Lakmal Fonseka, the Secretary of the Executive Association of SriLankan Airlines (EASLA) has expressed their discomfort.
    No doubt more unions will join.
    .
    The airline was tottering and Emirates offered a helping hand. Lankans perceive the present problems can be traced to the under-the-belt punch in the withdrawal of visa of the Emirates executive. The culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity became fact-of-life.
    The rot set in and the present GoSL only added to the rot.
    Will PCoI get to the bottom of all this?

  • 0
    9

    What were these whistle blowers doing when the previous Chairman, Mr. Ajith Dias “Condemned” and “Shunned” the Waliamuna Report as “BASELESS”. He did that after a “Committee” of the Board report. Who were the members of that “Committee”? How did they come to that “CONCLUSION”? What was “Waliamuna Investigation Committees’ response , who collected nearly Rs. 4 million from the Public Coffers? What was the response of all these “Trade Unions” when the “UPSTART: brother-in-law of Mahinda Rajapakse – the Brother of his wife Shiranthi Wickramasinge , Nishantha Wickramasinghe the “Vagabond” was sucking the blood of the National Carrier and living in a “Kingdom” of his own , well looked after and assisted by all these “Senior Managers”. The only response I saw at that time came from the “Social” & “Print” media that went into action by fully exposing the doings of these “Chairmen” ( Nishantha Wickramasinghe & Ajith Dias) the Board of Directors, CEOs and the so called “Senior Managers”. The “SILENCE” observed by these “Whistle Blowers” and the “Employees” as one “Family” must take the responsibility for ALLOWING the creation and the continuity of this rotten affairs of this National Career that became a “SERFDOM ” where ALL lived as “LICKSPITTLES”. At least from now on wards RESOLVE to live an HONORABLE life dedicated to the well being of the resource that provides you and your family a LIFE TO LIVE.

    • 9
      0

      It is easy to blame the employees but is it right? Don’t you think they had to fear for their jobs if complaining, facing such a wall of irrational power, backed up by family connections to political decision makers?

      The unions may have reacted late but at least they do it now stronger than ever. And the efforts of the AGPSL are not new, considering the long time they worked on the RTI case and for better transparency regarding this matter, which has turned out to be successful now.

      Sorry, I must ask you, Douglas, what did you do to stop the creation and continuity of these rotten affairs? I have not seen anybody on the roads protesting.

  • 4
    9

    The exec union is the joke of the century. The leadership is incompetent and played politics with HHR to survive. No they have aligned with Capt R who is acting like a CEO. Dear union check the following, what was process the HR used to recruit new ceo and cto? Where were the svns and or paper adds? Have you or your members done anything as execs in a company for the betterment? What happened to your alligence to former cfo who created lot of issues including the cashew ?time to disband all of you lot!

  • 8
    1

    Where were you the executive union when the former CCO was holidaying in India his Komal land every other week? Or when he appointed a non experienced PR guy as the Manager in HongKong as a return of all the favours done ? Where was the so competent HHR? Now Air Lanka is discontinuing flights to HongKong. No one is accountable that’s the issu with this white elephant. All around favours “you scratch mine I will yours”. Every one comes makes a huge packet and goes away and then they blame the employees. The senior managers keep silent taking their benefits whilst the airline is draining out. Now all these jokers are going to the Presidential commission like innocent saints. They signed and approved all those corrupt deals. Like the former idiotic minister said now this is good to be buried. It was only because of the Pilots guild at least these things are out now in the open. Don’t fiddle around anymore get the correct person with Integrity and airline knowledge to run this airline without letting the IMF backed consultants to shrink the air line,cutting down flights and destinations.

    • 3
      11

      Sherif you are aas kissingthe pilots for what?

  • 4
    0

    JO: Thanks. I agree that the Unions were faced with a humongous problem of fighting against “Despotic” regime at each and every work place instituted by the MR regime. Yet, it is up to the Trade Unions to fight for what is RIGHT and against WRONG. I am stating this with experience as a Trade Unionist in the Public Sector, of that record I do not wish to talk of. What I meant to say was: No Trade Union takes things lying down for FEAR of being targeted for discriminatory punishments. When MR took over this airline and installed the most INCOMPETENT and a RUTHLESS Management, the Trade Unions (including the SLFP bonded) should have stood FIRM against the Corruption, Mismanagement, Waste and Hegemony that crept into the airline after the departure of Emirates. If that was done at the starting point, the STINKING situation would have been checked and minimized to a great extent. That SELF IMPOSED SILENCE, on the part of the Trade Unions created a fertile ground for those vagabonds to dance as they wished and pleased. Even with the publication of the Waliammuna Report, no action was demanded and fought and the worst was when the newly appointed Chairman by the present PM declared that the “Report” was BASELESS. Did Tax Payers of this country pay Rs. 4 million to hear of that “VERDICT”? Do you think a Trade Union worthy of its name would KEEP MUM? I condemn that SILENCE as a Trade Unionist. Having said all that, I did request these Trade Unions at least NOW to consolidate and look into the bigger picture to turn things around and make this airline TRULY a National Carrier.

    • 8
      0

      Thanks Douglas, I agree. The unions could have done more in the past. Other than the individual employee they could have got together as one voice, like they do now. Give them a chance. I think they are on a good way now. And they have achieved a lot compared to the past.

      • 2
        2

        May I suggest that you all use Google search and check on “ALPGSL” or Pilots Guild Sri Lanka” before speculation what they have done or not. The biggest industrial actions were taken during by the Guild during the previous regime.

        • 4
          0

          I don’t think the ALPGSL is the target of criticism, UL pilot. There is no doubt that the guild’s achievements are plenty, especially in the industrial context and what corrections of individual issues are concerned. And it is clear that the ALPGSL also has been the driving force in the current discussion where management malpractices are revealed.

          But (please correct me, if I am wrong) when in the past did all the Srilankan Unions go together and fight against the mismanagement in this airline and make it aware to the public like they started it now? And when has the communication ever been so open and direct?

          It is a positive signal for employees and the public and a vital component for the survival of this airline that with EASLA a second Union has now formulated their stance regarding the untenable situation in parts of the management. The other unions should now position themselves too.

          The HHR (and before CEO and Board) will not be the last person to be identified as an unqualified antagonist of the ongoing restructuring process.

        • 5
          0

          I don’t think the ALPGSL is the target of criticism, UL pilot. There is no doubt that the guild’s achievements are plenty, especially in the industrial context and what other individual issues are concerned. And the ALPGSL also has been the driving force in the current discussion where management malpractices are revealed.

          But (correct me, if I am wrong) when in the past did all the Srilankan Unions go together and fight against the mismanagement in this airline and make it aware to the public? And when has the communication ever been so open and direct? It is a positive signal for employees and the public and a vital component for the survival of this airline that with EASLA a second Union has now formulated their stance regarding the untenable situation in parts of the management. The other unions should now position themselves too.

          The HHR (and before CEO and Board) will not be the last person to be identified as an unqualified antagonist to the ongoing restructuring process.

    • 1
      0

      May I suggest that you all use Google search and check on “ALPGSL” or Pilots Guild Sri Lanka” before speculating what they have done or not. The biggest industrial actions were taken by the Guild during the previous regime.

  • 6
    1

    There are few more powerfull unions in SriLankan.
    But most of leaders are happy as they have been given what they wanted. Specially currupt leaders of powerfull unions play underhand deals and they try catching power internally by promoting themselves even they are not qualified. It is good if all unions could come like Pilot guild and Ececutive union. But they keep their mouth shut as they have been treated better. But HHR is balancing only leaders treating unfairly and without intergrity.

    We should know that this HHR is very selfish and a kind of person who turn to other side when things turns and bark at his own team.. Now he is pointing finger to smt and former board saying that i am not the man who did this all.

  • 4
    0

    No one is talking about the inflight Union. They were loved and taken care of by the former gov. What about the unbelievable salary hike made by the former chief to her flying girls. Compare the flying girls salary to the other graded staff salaries? How come they were all of a sudden upgraded and placed in a higher salary scale ?
    Meena

  • 4
    0

    What about the favors granted to stewardesses? They got almost everything from Nishi Aiya. No one dare to call any chairmen by their first name. But stewardesses called him Nishi Aiya. truly chek the stewardesses salaries, how Nishi Aiya increased it. There was no guide line or procedures . All of a sudden they got him to raise their grades and salaries. They did look after Nishi Aiya very well. Check this what HR was doing during this period. Shame on this post. No one in the past did try to take maximum advantage of this position to take stewardesses to “…..”.”. ……….

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