- Say if any member of current board, CEO remains in airline post-restructuring they have no confidence in process
- Unreasonable for govt. to comment on airline’s fiscal performance as it is always managed by a govt. appointee
- Call for transparency and employee dialogue in the proposed restructuring process
In a scathing attack on its top brass, the unions of the SriLankan Airlines in a letter dated December 12, 2017 said, if any of the current board members or CEO remains part of the airline post-restructuring, they have no confidence in the whole restructuring process for which SriLankan Chairman Ajith Dias requested the cooperation of the all employee unions a couple of weeks ago. “We wish to very categorically state that if you, the CEO or any one of your members from the Board of Directors is retained and remains a constituent of the management of our company post restructuring process, we have no confidence in, or trust that the said process will be effective and yield the desired results,” the letter sent by Alliance of Unions-SriLankan Airlines to Dias, read.
It further stated it is unreasonable for any government to criticize the fiscal performance of the airline, as throughout the history, with the exception of the Emirates partnership, the airline has always been managed by government appointees who had minimal, if not no experience or credentials, to run a dynamic airline business.
The letter was copied President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minsiter Ranil Wickremesinghe, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim, Special Assignments Minister Sarath Amunugama, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva, Development Trade and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama and several key Finance Ministry officials.
The letter stated that on the eve of the third year of the management led by Dias, the airline being compelled to invite “an experienced international consultant” to attend the task of restructuring the airline company was proof that the present administration has failed in the task entrusted with them.
“Perhaps it may have been more prudent to have hired such a competent personal locally or internationally from the inception when you had first assumed office, and observed that the task was beyond the competency of yourself, the Board and specifically the current CEO, who had absolutely no business or managerial experience of any significance, to qualify for a task of this scale at such a critical juncture,” the letter said. It further added that as a result, lives and sustenance of nearly 7,000 employees and their families are now in jeopardy, through no fault of their own.
Taking further jabs at Chairman and the director board of SriLankan, the letter stated that the only burden they inherited was the airline’s debt pile as Dias on several occasions dismissed the gross malpractices and incidents of corruption that were alleged to have happened at the airline during the previous regime.
“As per your statements highlighted in the media and for reasons best known to yourself and the board, you had dismissed any such alleged malpractices as nothing by reports based on hearsay. Therefore it could be reasonably assumed that the only burden taken over by your board was the accumulated debt, but with a free hand to turn-around the fortunes of the airline.”
“The task entrusted and accepted by the board and yourself was not to compromise the livelihood of nearly 7000 employees and their families by giving yourselves priority to stature, travel benefits, bonuses or having dealings which could itself be a conflict of interest for a director in any company,” the letter stated.
It further reminded Dias of the formal request made through the Right to Information Act by the Airlines Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka (ALPGSL) for information regarding the benefits enjoyed by individuals of the top management as well as details pertaining to the agreements to lease new aircraft and their eventual cancellation, which have been denied on the grounds of “confidentiality.”
“We, the employees, request your clarification whether this information can be labeled as confidential, when it has contributed to the further accumulated debt that you now state, may result in a potential loss of employment of nearly 7, 000 individuals,” the letter questioned.
“Therefore, we kindly request that any restructuring process be formulated, whilst talking into consideration and including the opinions of the employee bodies, thereby maintaining transparency to the employees as well as the nation.
“We also wish to place on record that we will consider the liabilities and accountability of the board for the present state that the employees have been subjected to,” the letter concluded.