18 April, 2024


SriLankan Airlines; Pilots “Work To Rule” Strike Off: New Pilots Guild Committee Cows To Management Pressure

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.

Capt. Rajind Ranatunga Head of Flight Operations

Capt. Rajind Ranatunga Head of Flight Operations

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 Now the new committee has taken cover behind the membership and have meekly withdrawn the ‘work to rule’ with absolutely nothing achieved”.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.

Dear Anura,

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.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    I wish they did “Work To Rule”.

    If we all worked as per the rules we will not only have a lucrative airline business but every other business too.

    From the top down, starting with the President downwards all Sri Lankans are famous for fudging and dodging at work. Worse still we break all the financial rules as well, with all sorts of fraudulent activities. I wish we will one day learn to work to rule – nothing wrong with that.

  • 4

    Way to go, the Lee Kuan Yew way, kick some air bus driver’s Ass.

  • 1

    At least Capt. Rajind seems to be far more effective than CEO Capt.Suren Ratwatte.
    The new bunch of Pilots Guild guys have been put in place as soon as they entered by the former Army Commander’s son.

  • 2

    Thank you CT for reporting the matter as it has transpired. The ALPGSL was somewhat infamous at never being with its members who in crisis for quite sometime now but had acted correctly when the politically driven management decided to ‘ground’ one of its senior most Commanders who had questioned a bunch of security officials who were attempting to carry out a flawed breathalyzer test. The flawed procedure was corrected only after the Commander in question exposed it. The Management should never have allowed a flawed procedure to be adopted and the ALPGSL should’ve questioned the management after a few Pilots were put through this procedure. But both parties did nothing about it until this particular Commander, a former long standing President of the ALPGSL and a former military pilot who had served the country well had to take the initiative. Instead of thanking him for having done so the management suspended him ! That’s the caliber of managers this country now poses.

    So with the new kid as President calling for SMS voting ( not approved by their constitution) the ALPGSL has called off their ‘Work to Rule’ even when nothing was achieved as a group ! Instead they had just punished themselves for nothing ? The pressure on the management to do the right thing could not be sustained as the company decided to withdraw their leave and a few other benefits including the payment of USD 400 per flight if called on an off day. If they do not have what is needed to sacrifice on behalf of what is RIGHT and are driven by personal benefits then they should seriously consider disbanding the Guild. Shame on that bunch of whimps

    The top dog Rajind got there by unseating the former using media support and many expected him to stand up to what is right but true to his school he too has gone the way of previous guys given that post. In his letter he complains that using Discretion by Commanders was discouraged by the guild and that it’s a case of challenging the DG Civil Aviation. What bunkum. The word discretion by the Commander explains it well enough. He himself was quite vocal about it a few years ago and was involved in strike action during the time Emirates ruled the roost much better than they do today.

    Shame on all of them !

  • 3

    New Kid,
    You seem to have a thorough knowledge on the ins and outs of the airline.
    The new guild should have waited for the outcome of the internal inquiry regrading the suspend pilot Capt.Sujith Jayasekara and then made their decision. As usual they may have tried to show off by doing the opposite to what the previous committee did and score some brownie points with the management.
    Capt.Rajind Ranatunga is a seasoned old Pilot Guild campaigner who now plays the guitar for the management.
    He as nicely got around these young pups and played them well.
    Very soon they will realizse their mistake.
    I feel they may last about six months and get kicked out like the former committee that was headed by Capt.Namal Fernando.

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