President Maithripala Sirisena who met Executive Committee Members of the Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka has vowed that he would intervene and look into the grievances brought forward by the pilots of SriLankan Airlines regarding the unacceptable conduct of the senior management of the airline.
The President had accorded a meeting after the pilots who conducted an SMS vote among the members of the ALPGSL who voted 135 in favour of and 63 against going on industrial action, if their request for a meeting with their Chairman, Board of Directors and Minister of Public Enterprise was not been granted.
Besides many items on their list of grievances was the questionable existence of its present CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte and Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Kekulawala besides the victimization of their fellow pilot Capt. Sujith Jayasekara.
The senior management of the airline is currently made up of close associates of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The airline is headed by Chairman Ajith Dias who has no previous airline experience and CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte who also has no prior experience of holding such a position. Whilst the Chairman is a close associate of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, CEO Ratwatte is the brother of Charitha Ratwatte one of the premier’s closest buddies. The Board of Directors is made up primarily of political appointees.
A member of the ALPGSL speaking on condition of anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the media told Colombo Telegraph “ever since the Yahapalanaya government came into power we have been hoodwinked from the beginning. It started with much promise with the government appointing a committee to investigate the fraud and corruption done by the previous regime. The BOI comprised of Lawyer J.C.Weliamuna and his team of lawyers. Many of us staff came forward and spoke out openly. There was much promise when the findings of the investigation were over. Lawyer Weliamuna recommended that the former Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and CEO Kapila Chandrasena be prosecuted. Many others were also named as those that were involved in large scale fraud and corruption. This much hyped investigation into the national carrier was conducted after the Yahapalanaya government came into power and prior to the General Election. After the General Election was over nothing happened regarding the findings of the Weliamuna inquiry. Many named still run the airline in their same capacities. Now the present management is ruining the airline further. They have no business sense at all. They simply closed three stations during the peak winter season which were Frankfurt, Rome and Paris. Then they made much noise about securing a wet lease deal with Pakistan International Airlines. That was a flop too even though the CEO Capt. Ratwatte portrayed that we made profit on paper. The Pakistani government is currently investigating PIA for fraud committed through this deal. Our government should also investigate as to what happened and punish these perpetrators without letting them ruin this airline further. The Flight Attendants Union President Sakvithi Senadheera incurred a whopping loss to the airline when he refused to fly to Bahrain on the 19th of January 2017 stating that they were exceeding Flight Time Duty Limitations. The flight was cancelled which also inconvenienced hundreds of passengers. Here again the management along with the Scheduling Department bungled this entire incident. But all they did was get a letter of apology from the FAU President Senadheera and the entire loss was written off. However one of our members Capt.Sujith Jayasekara continues to be victimized for simply questioning a procedure that was hurriedly enforced. The management wanted a letter of apology from him too. He refused to apologize for no fault committed. Now he remains at home and his paid his wages until retirement”.
Colombo Telegraph can confirm that the management of SriLankan Airlines has further wasted a sum of over Rs 10 million over the last six month period. This was due to the Chairman Dias, CEO Capt.Ratwatte and the Board of Directors consenting to rather pay Capt. Sujith Jayasekara his wages despite not utilizing his services up until his current contractual agreement with the airline expires on the 28th of February 2017.
The Board of Directors’ decision to prolong an inquiry in their quest to victimize Capt. Jayasekara further is where it is alleged that he had refused to comply with a breathalyzer test prior to his flight departure to Bangkok last August.
The Executive Committee of the ALPGSL believe that the dramatic irony behind this incident is where those conducting the breathalyzer test permitted Capt.Jayasekara and his co-pilot to operate their flight to Bangkok despite not been tested and then complained to the management that they refused to do so.
Due to Capt. Sujith Jayasekara’s insistence in questioning a process not being conducted appropriately, the entire process and procedural change of the breathalyzer test was changed immediately by the airline after the management met with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka and also the Executive Committee of the ALPGSL.
The Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka had earlier had written to Chairman Dias demanding that Capt. Sujith Jayasekara be reinstated immediately. However Chairman Dias opted to ignore their officially written letter.
At the time of writing it is reliably learnt that another letter had been sent to Chairman Dias by the ALPGSL today, reminding him further and warning him and his Board of Directors that the Pilots Guild do have the consent of their members to go on industrial action if their demands are not met.