29 July, 2021

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SriLankan Airlines: Flight Attendants Union All Set To Implode

The non representation of the Executive Committee of the Flight Attendants Union of Sri Lankan Airlines in defence of their seventeen cabin crew members said to be terminated, may have been a calculated ploy.

“What subsequently transpired is that the very group supposed to defend their cabin crew cadre has been exposed as those masquerading illegally as union officials since last December”, a union member told Colombo Telegraph on condition of anonymity.

“Factually we are currently legally not being represented as the Executive Committee of the FAU which was summoned to be present at a meeting along with all other airline Union Representatives by the Chairman Ajit Dias, failed to turn up as they were not an elected body” our source revealed.

SriLankan airline 1Other inside sources from within the In Flight Services Department also revealed that the group did not attend the Chairman’s meeting as legally an email is not sufficient means to summon the FAU for a meeting. It is stated that the FAU was playing the silent card and that a letter sent through registered post is the legal means to summon them for any official meeting.

The Jayaratne / Weliamuna report which stayed dormant for over eight months has now being re-ignited and those that fearlessly came out speak on the assurance that they would be protected have now lost faith in speaking in the open. Hence many quotes provided are on condition of anonymity as the national carrier’s employees are also barred from speaking to the media.

The non representation of the seventeen cabin crew said to be axed due to irregular recruitment practices during the previous Rajapaksa regime and also plagued with nepotistic charges, sent shock waves across the rest of the cabin crew union members which is made up of over one thousand flyers.

It has now come to light that only a paltry number of around 40 plus members of the FAU which incidentally was made up of both the incoming and outgoing Executive Committee Members, had turned up last December for the Annual General Meeting. This meeting was held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall to elect office bearers for the new term.

However due to the poor turn out and not having a quorum to proceed with a vote, a group of FAU members bulldozed their way through and ousted the existing Executive Committee and assumed office without being elected.

This no doubt is an illegal act as according to the constitution that governs them, the new group of cabin crew union members do have to be elected first prior to taking over reins.

FAU member and Cabin Manager Adrian Cramer who claimed to be the new President and his team were forewarned of their act by the outgoing President of the FAU Cabin Manager Sidath Dedigama that this was an illegal takeover.

The drama that further unfolded brought about a another twist, as it was also highlighted that the outgoing President of the FAU Sidath Dedigama and his team had also gone on to commit a similar act when they themselves assumed power earlier.

Dedigama and his Executive Committee illegally operated their entire term without being elected themselves when they took over from the last rightfully elected President of the FAU Dinesh Fernando.

“Throwing the cat among the pigeons now is that during the last Rajapaksa regime and during the autocratic rule of the previous Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe, the most lucrative of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) was signed between the Senior Management of the national carrier and the FAU. However what is further interesting to note is that the former Chairman Wickramasinghe along with the current Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekualawala went on to sign this CBA with an illegal team of FAU reps who were never elected according to their own constitution. This in itself was viewed as ‘null and void’ and during that time Kekulawala decided to keep mum about it.” said a member of the previous Executive Committee of the FAU.

“Strangely the current Head of Human Resources Kekulawala who compiled the name list for termination was himself strongly exposed in the Jayaratne / Weliamuna report. Kekulawala is the one who was mainly responsible for facilitating mass scale recruitment of airline staff, when lists of names were sent in especially by former Chairman Wickramasinghe, MP Namal Rajapaksa, Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and current Head of Service Delivery Chanaka Olagama” said an employee from within the Human Resources Department.

The following members of the FAU who took office illegally were President- Adrian Cramer, Secretary – Lanka Kamalgoda and Treasurer- Elseworth Weerasinghe.

Cramer insisted that there was no necessity for a vote to be taken and proceeded to deprive the rest the 1082 union members of their fundamental right to vote for persons of their choice.

When Colombo Telegraph contacted a lawyer to seek his views on this matter, he said “the innocent grieving parties have to now seek relief under the Estoppel Law”

“Perhaps the only way forward for the FAU to proceed is for all its members to work together for the greater good of the airline and its union members” concluded our FAU source.

However the Sri Lankan Airlines Senior Management who over the years have never forsaken their employees are said to view the cases of the seventeen cabin crew members in similar vein, as the rest of the union representatives who attended the meeting insisted that no employees should be terminated in this instance.

There are a number of examples where even those cabin crew with alcoholic or drug related addictive problems have been rehabilitated by the Senior Management of the national carrier in the past.

Currently there is even a manager within the In Flight Services Department itself who did benefit from a similar rehabilitation programme and has been justified by his strong contribution within the department in a specialized field.

The airline at present is also helping another cabin crew member with an alcoholic related problem and is assured of having his job back when fully cured.

“Whilst having this type of support from the Senior Management it is hoped that Chairman Ajit Dias would take into account the completed performance appraisals of these seventeen cabin crew members along with their obligated fulfillment of the Civil Aviation Authority’s requirements and consider in retaining them within the airline. This is as we as cabin crew do not at present have any legal representation from our FAU ” concluded our union source.

However it will be interesting to note as to what stance the airline’s Senior Management will now take due to its employees masquerading as a group of fraudulent impersonators.

In the past cabin crew have been instantly terminated for doctoring passenger in flight credit card payment slips, altering of dates on medical certificates and also terminated those that have stolen hotel property whilst on overseas flight lay overs.

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Latest comments

  • 14
    8

    FAU had an easy run under MARA regime. Almost all FAU members now earn upto Rs 500,000 per month with flying allowances if they take up their full quota of flights. Not a bad remuneration considering the remuneration levels in the govt sector.

    Also it is alleged that lasses from the South were recruited during MARA regime ignoring minimum requirements. Looking around inside a cabin you could clearly see a deterioration of standards over the years.

    Also too many staff at Sri Lankan with more than 100 staff per aircraft which is way above industry standards. Similar to CTB having almost 10 staff per bus!!!

    We need radical change at SriLankan to keep it afloat even at USD 29 per barrel for crude oil.

    Hope Ranil has it in him to take the tough decisions even to close it down or to limit it to the region if that is what is necessary.

    • 6
      20

      Mr Fernando’s comment is interesting..

      “Mara gave jobs to lassies from the South as Flying Waitresses.And Fernanado can see a deterioration in the standards inside Airbus Cabins.”

      And Mr Fernanado is begging Batalanada Ranil to fix the problem..

      Although I don’t fly our Sinhala Le Airlines, I see these chicks in their colorful garb, pushing those trolleys around at the BIA.

      They all look the same to me as far as the appearance is concerned.They seem to wear the same Parfume too, which is very pleasant to me.

      Wonder what this deterioration is about?.

      Is it the lack of English to respond to high flying Yahapalana suckers when they order free booze ?..

      Or is it the ordour of the armpits of our lasses from the Dalit South, when they have to bend over to serve the free Cognac to our Colombo Elite?.

      Is Keselwatta Kid going to canvass votes for Ranil from the South at the Mini Election?..

  • 2
    15

    Is this a part of the fight between Elite and the Dalits as everywhere else under Yahapalanaya?.

    Or just a shit fight between the Haves and the Has not so much in Clout and or the dosh…

    Or are the Yahapalana suckers in the FAU trying to curry favor with Batalanada’s Chairman and the Executives?..

    Didn’t some one say these are the recommendations of Weliamuna’s Yahapalana Report into Sinha Le Airlines ?..

  • 16
    0

    The solution is simple. If you want Srilankan to be profitable just follow Singapore Airlines or Qatar, Emirates or Etihad. DO NOT permit politics to creep in.Uncle Dias are you ready to run the gauntlet? Sorry, you don’t seem so.Garments are a much more attractive proposition ha?!

  • 6
    1

    All this game playing within the airline is meaningless as the airline is a huge drain on the country’s coffers.

    We can build several hospitals and upgrade many neglected rural schools to first world standards if we scrap this airline once and for all.

    All this interplay between management and staff in a seriously huge loss making enterprise is a malevolent joke played on the average Sri Lankan. The savings envisaged by the airline by sacking 17 or so cabin crew will not make a minute dent on the colossal losses that this white elephant is accruing.

  • 6
    0

    We are told the illegal activities will be dealt with step by step by MS. But this is a shining example where there is no intention of taking any steps. The Weliamuna report will be buried. The same scoundrels exposed in this report allowed to continue while the so called new management moves on. If ever an accusation is made as to why nothing was done a ready made excuse will be trotted out. This is the Sri Lankan way. No use getting your blood pressure up. The country is a basket case and will remain so forever. Not even Namal’s keep has been fired or compelled to pay back the money paid to her illegally. Is she too being rehabilitated? You can draw insane salaries of half a million rupees a month and be a drunkard or a drug addict not to worry you will be rehabilitated. What a joke. Is there any company in the world where employees can get away like this? Disgusting sorry excuses that all you will get.

  • 4
    4

    So..this is the srilankan people’s mentality.helloo we all are humans right??Mr.Jagath Fernando..do u have any children? So think if samething has happened to your children..would you still open your mouth like this?everyone can apply for this job..this is not only for colombo people.do u have any proof to say that they don’t have the minimum qualifications??they have more than what required..can Mr.Siripala give a english speach on a stage?passed G.C.E. O/L?? If you have to take the revange take it from the right people…don’t play with innocent lives.

  • 5
    0

    Terribly written article. Clunky English, and whoever wrote this seems to be more intent on using big words to impress people than report the damn news.

    • 2
      0

      Agree with kp. I really wanted to know what the article said and I was prepared to put up with imperfect English if only I could understand. Sincerely, and without putting anybody down, I simply could not work out most of what the author of the article was attempting to say.

  • 1
    0

    kp.

    Frankly,I never miss out essays on the Srilankan Airlines.Especially,the La Dolce Vita style of the EX:Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe-He had his fill no doubt,Lucky man!
    But,I just could not figure out this piece,apart from the fact that this is coined in the fractured English of a Chinese trader!

  • 4
    2

    Wera: You said,in your comment above: “Not even Namal’s keep has been fired or compelled to pay back money paid to her illegally”. NO. I do not agree. The reasons:(1) This appointment was made expressly on the instructions of the then Secretary to the President – Mr. Lalith Weeratunga. She was asked to report to work at the Presidential Secretariat that was directly under the President’s Secretary. According to her, she did not even know where that outfit was; but was made to work from the Temple Trees. So, her appointment was a “SECONDMENT” to the Presidential Secretariat.Therefore it is not an “illegal” appointment. (2) The payments made to her were not “illegal”; because that were not determined by her at all. Then who made that “determination”. It was none other than the person who got her down to work at the Presidential Secretariat i.e. the Secretary to the President – then again Mr. Lalith Weeratunga. (3) The fact of alleging her to be a “keep” of Namal is immaterial to the question at issue. If you still insist in saying that she was a “keep” of Namal, then who is the person who “aided” to accomplish that move? The answer again is this person who sent that directive to the the Ariline.

    In my opinion, she should not be penalized. If any action is necessary to be taken on this matter, then the “Prime Culprit” to be questioned is Mr. Lalith Weeratunga and not this “kid” who, in my opinion, would have been a “victim” of circumstances. Would like to hear your thoughts too. Thank you.

  • 1
    1

    Douglas,

    You have interpreted the principle of “due process” succinctly.

    Whether the gon-harakas who run the present administration understand it, is a different matter.

    The individuals who facilitated the “illegal” actions should be taken to task in a public forum. In reality, that is not likely to happen.

    Instead, we have the bottom-rung exposed to suffer the insults, innuendo and half-truths. I am not excusing her actions. Those in power should be punished not someone subject to those powers.

    Bill Clinton and Monica come to mind. This is another Monica/Menika story…

  • 1
    1

    Upul: Thank you. I know two hands must come together to “CLAP” and that “Monica/Clinton” is very appropriate.

  • 2
    0

    Reading this article I am appalled at the inaccuracies, misinterpretations in stated in this article and some of the readers’ comments.

    ** The writer of this article appears to have written this article to meet the personal agenda and malicious intent of whoever the person/persons that prompted him to write it.

    ** The write appears to, willfully or otherwise got his facts wrong and misinterpreted events to convey an entirely wrong picture.

    ** The quoted events stated in the article which I have copied, highlighted and pasted here are inaccurate and misrepresentation of the truth for obvious reasons of malicious intent (“a group of FAU members bulldozed their way through and ousted the existing Executive Committee and assumed office without being elected
    This no doubt is an illegal act as according to the constitution that governs them, the new group of cabin crew union members do have to be elected first prior to taking over reins.
    FAU member and Cabin Manager Adrian Cramer who claimed to be the new President and his team were forewarned of their act by the outgoing President of the FAU Cabin Manager Sidath Dedigama that this was an illegal takeover.
    The drama that further unfolded brought about a another twist, as it was also highlighted that the outgoing President of the FAU Sidath Dedigama and his team had also gone on to commit a similar act when they themselves assumed power earlier.
    Dedigama and his Executive Committee illegally operated their entire term without being elected themselves when they took over from the last rightfully elected President of the FAU Dinesh Fernando”)

    ** The write appears to willfully for whatever reason cast doubt on the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed during the tenure of the previous Executive committee. Here again he has got his facts wrong or willfully twisted the facts for obvious reasons. There was nothing illegal or any wrong doing on the part of any person/s involved in the negotiations or signatories to the Agreement.

    ** The Jayaratne / Weliamuna report being reignited is good. But, it’s about time the writer grows up. Instead of dragging through the mud the names of the people who had no choice but to comply with the order of those in power, if there was any irregularities he should instead name and shame those that gave the orders and committed the irregularities. Let me ask, if your boss asked you to work in an area outside your job description and you know if you did not comply, you can lose your job, would you not comply with the request?

    ** The other facts too sated in the article again appear to have been written by writer to sensationalizes the article rather than presenting the facts as they should have been presented. That is, if his intent was to expose any wrong doing without malicious intent.

    ** Mr. Jagath Fernando obviously you do not know what you are taking about when it comes to the earnings of the FAU members or the Cabin Crew members. Obviously you have got your information from the wrong sources. Let me correct you, most of the FAU members DO NOT EARN Rs. 500,000 or over or anywhere close to it. I know this for a fact and can vouch for it. So before you make such statement in public get your facts right. Most of the cabin crew member’s basic salary is poultry figure which is sometimes less than what a sales representative would earn. Yes they do get productivity allowances depending on the hours they fly which does not even amount to half of what you have stated. What do they sacrifice to earn their money? They leave their families and loved ones at home while they fly, they have to choose between being with their families and loved ones, if they are sick, on Christmas, New Year, weddings, birthday’s anniversaries and other family occasion or missing them by going to work to earn the money to put food on the table and pay their bills. While you stay at home and enjoy all of these and do you think it is right or it’s fair to comment with inaccurate figures. They endure the harsh weather overseas, they endure the risk associated with flying and exhaust themselves physically and mentally to earn their wages. They endure the wrath of the passengers who have been mishandled by others who take it out on them as they are the last touch point in the chain of touch points in the passengers travel experience, where the cabin crew spend the most amount of time confined in an aluminum tube for the duration of the flight. They eat basic meals or skip meals to save whatever they can from the meal allowances paid to them to eat while they are overseas which in some countries inadequate to have a proper meal. You obviously have no idea what a crew member goes through physically and mentally to earn what he or she earns. But you think you have the right to comment.

    ** Mr. Sumanasekara your comment on flying waitresses, which is an unfair comment. You like many others have absolutely no idea what it takes to be a cabin crew member or what their go through to become one and what they have to go through to maintain their licence. They are more than trolley dollies or flying waitresses, they are trained professionals. They are trained to save the lives of the passengers in case of an emergency be it an accident or medical situation. Service on board the aircraft is not their prime responsibility. Their PRIME RESPONSIBILITY IS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THE PASSENGERS. They are trained and in possession of license to get the passengers safely of an aircraft in an emergency in 90 SECONDS and to operate the safety equipment. Now can you or anyone else managed that? Have you given thought to, if you were on an aircraft and it was involved in an accident who is going to get you out of that aircraft and probably save your life? If you had a heart attack on the aircraft while you were flying who do you think is going to help you stay alive until help can be got? Please think and appreciate what they do. Sadly like you many put down the profession of a cabin crew member and look down a upon it without even giving a thought to the responsibility associated with the job and the sacrifices they make to ensure you get from A to B safely.

  • 0
    0

    Crappy article such as this with inaccurate and misleading information where the truth is twisted in an attempt to sensationalize a the article should not be allowed to be published in a forum such as this. Allowing such article to be published only questions the integrity of this site.
    This is not journalism, this is a half baked attempt to mimic a journalist by putting together inaccurate information and twisting the truth in cheap attempt to try to get some cheap publicity.
    Article such as this unfairly brings disrepute and pain of mind to the innocent peoples names that are dragged through the mud just because an individual want’s cheap publicity or to use a public forum such as this to try and achieve their masters personal agendas.
    I am happy at least some of the reader that have commented somewhat share my view.

  • 0
    0

    Waliamuna report was never carried out cause all the culprits mentioned in the report is working with the new government showing that they are helping the airline.some staff with years of experience have been transfered with out a reason by this fellows. They were transferred on false aligations.do you call this yaha palanaya. Major bandula weragama/general chandrawansa/Pradeepa kekulawala all these are wandibatayo of the former government. Back door recruitment should be eliminated starting from top to bottom not bottom to top.

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