• PIA has invited union leaders for talks amidst protests against the airline's privatization plan and a demand for pay rises.
  • The airline is willing to discuss the pay rise request, but it is unclear if any compromise will be made regarding the privatization plan.

Following protests by Pakistan International Airlines employees, the airline has invited the union for talks. PIA staff have protested against the airline's privatization plan and want pay rises.

PIA to hold talks with employees

The Pakistani carrier has been rocked by a series of protests from union People’s Unity of Pakistan International Airlines CBA. Despite initially taking a hard line with legal action and arrests, ARY News reports that PIA is now inviting its employees to conduct talks.

A PIA spokesperson confirmed this, stating that talks will be held in Islamabad regarding the pay rise request. However, it is unclear if the carrier is willing to compromise on anything pertaining to its privatization plan - union leaders have reiterated that they will not allow the airline's privatization plan to go ahead under any circumstances.

A Pakistan International Boeing 777 airplane at London Heathrow airport (LHR) in the United Kingdom.
Photo: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock

People’s Unity CBA president Hidayatullah Khan conducted a press conference last week condemning the airline's planned privatization, stating it would have a detrimental impact on PIA salaries, its standard of service, and its symbolic position as the nation's flag carrier.

PIA's latest plan would see the airline split into two separate entities. The carrier has faced growing losses in the past year - a spokesperson has said that, while salaries will be revised, to do so immediately would "be tantamount to grounding of planes and limiting our network, which in essence would put us in further economical jeopardy."

Union leader arrests

In response to the protests, PIA launched legal action against its protesting staff, arguing that their actions violated the Pakistan Essential Services Maintenance Act, which does not permit 'negligence' - such as protests or sit-ins - in an essential line of duty like commercial aviation.

Police raided the homes of People's Unity CBA leaders over the weekend, with one senior CBA member claiming police harassed his family during a raid. The carrier also shut down the office of its Senior Officers Association (SSA) for supporting the protests, a move which was deemed illegal.

Discover more aviation news with Simple Flying.

Booking offices closed

The airline's booking offices were shut on Monday, and protests could worsen if union demands aren't met. PIA employees have conducted their protests outside the airline's offices across the country.

Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200ER | AP-BMH
Photo: Wirestock / Shutterstock

Dawn reports that for the past two weeks, a group of around 150 serving and retired PIA employees have staged protests outside PIA's head office. A PIA official claimed that this group stormed the head office on Friday, forcing PIA to suspend vital operational and administrative work which "risked the safety of aircraft and put lives of hundreds of passengers in danger." Union leaders have denied this happened, claiming it to be a "fake" case.

Do you think Pakistan International Airlines employees are justified in their strike action? Do you think the airline should go ahead with its privatization plan? Let us know your insights in the comments.

Source: ARY News, Dawn