The newly appointed committee of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka headed by Venura Perera withdrew the ongoing “work to rule” campaign immediately after assuming office.
In a dramatic move the newly appointed committee voted in on the 23rd September 2016 at their AGM, conducted a hurriedly organized SMS vote thereafter to have the strike removed.
In a strange twist of events Venura Perera whose name was proposed as the President by the suspended captain and his committee, took a decision in a supportive role extended more towards the management of the airline.
Understanding the current sentiments of the pilots especially after their annual leave and their promotions were suspended by Capt. Rajind Ranatunga the Head of Flight Operations, the new committee took a decision to call for a SMS vote even though constitutionally not required.
A member of the Pilots Guild speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not permitted to speak to the media said “What did the Pilots Guild achieve by commencing this work to rule in the first place? Were not these new guys part of the decision making process initially as members? The Pilots Guild collectively highlighted the issue and made such a spectacle of this episode even going to the extent of making it a media circus. Now the new committee has taken cover behind the membership and have meekly withdrawn the ‘work to rule’ with absolutely nothing achieved”.
“Thank God the previous committee did not ground any aircraft when they had the chance, especially in Gatwick recently. It would have been a mockery if they had done it especially with the new committee scrapping the ‘work to rule’ as they have now done so. Just imagine the cost the company would have had to bear? What about the passengers and their inconvenience in London? What about the bad publicity it would have caused? And now what about our pilots who are suspended? Perhaps the pilots greed to make a lucrative US $ 400 per day for flying on their off day has left the suspend pilot in the lurch. Can the Pilots Guild ever go on a work to rule again to support their colleagues? No way. They have become a bunch of jokers. Who will take them seriously now? the management will say ‘go fly a kite’ who cares about your ‘work to rule’ or your threats in the future” he said.
Inspired by perhaps the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s video on how to handle pilots, the Head of Flight Operations Capt. Rajind Ranatunga, despite being a current member of the Pilots Guild and a former vociferous President himself is credited for being instrumental in having this strike cancelled by the new committee. In a harshly worded email he wrote to the Pilots Guild saying “the company can function without the ALPGSL, but for the existence of the ALPGSL, it needs the company”. This was after he had gone on to suspend their annual leave and promotions in his quest to keep the airline afloat.
Published below is the email sent by the Head of Flight Operations Capt.Rajind Ranatunga to the Secretary of the ALPGSL.
From: Rajind Ranatunga – HFO <[Edited out]@srilankan.com>
Date: September 23, 2016 at 11:58:27 GMT+5:30
Subject: Cancellation of Annual leave
Capt Anura Abeyasekara,
Secretary – ALPGSL.
I write with reference to your mail dated 21st September 2016.
We the Flight Operations management, so far has allocated and given 5133 days of annual leave for this year.
In an organization, the annual leave is allocated with the consent of the employer. Even the present roster period there is leave allocated to crew members on a case by case basis. At no time have I mentioned that annual leave has been cancelled permanently. In fact, in my letter, I have stated, that annual leave will be reallocated once the situation normalizes.
Though you justify your actions being within the boundaries of the Collective Agreement and not industrial action, the ALPGSL ordering its membership not to heed to the employers request of working on off days (Legally) and also ordering not to exercise once discretion (which amounts to interfering in the authority vested upon the Commander by the DGCAA), that could cost the company dearly, can be interpreted as Industrial action.
We all being members of the ALPGSL, should realize, that the company can function without the ALPGSL, but for the existence of the ALPGSL, it needs the company.
Taking all this into consideration, we the Flight Operations management took the decisions that we did. Let me reassure you once more, that no sooner the ALPGSL normalizes the present situation, we will reallocate the annual leave.
Rajind Ranatunga – HFO
Head of Flight Operations (Technical Crew) | SriLankan Airlines Ltd.
Flight Operations, Airline Centre, Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake, Sri Lanka.