| Updated at: 1216 PST, Thursday, February 10, 2011|
KARACHI: A number of international flights were suspended as strike and protests of PIA employees’ unions grew intense on the third consecutive day during which vociferous demands were made for withdrawal of proposed agreement of the national flag carrier with Turkish Airline and removal of Managing Director PIA, Geo News reported.
PIA employees in airports across the country including those in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar have refused to go on their jobs while those willing to join office were also forced to stay out.
The government-Joint Action Committee (JAC), PIA, talks broke down in the inaugural phase on Wednesday, aggravating the crisis in the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
“There was a complete breakdown in the talks,” Convener JAC, PIA, Captain Sohail Baloch, told The News following the failed talks held with the government team at the Rawal Lounge of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad.
The government team, led by Labour Minister Khursheed Shah and Chaudhry Manzoor, participated in the talks, as Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar did not participate in the talks after objections were raised by the JAC.
The three-day strike by several unions in the PIA has crippled the functioning of the airline with several dozen international and domestic flights being cancelled or rescheduled. Passengers are the worst sufferers, though the top government leadership has failed to take any issue-resolving initiative.
The tiff between the PIA management and the employees’ unions kicked off after reports of selling out PIA routes to the Turkish Airlines in December last.
The PIA spokesman reiterated that no agreement or MoU had been signed between the PIA and Turkish Airlines and only discussions to this effect took place. Therefore, the spokesman added, there was no cause for any apprehension. He said the statements given by the PALPA president were misleading and incorrect.
Employees of other unions, including those of Pakistan Railways, All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association, Transporters Union, Wapda, etc, joined PIA’s protest and blocked the Airport Road..
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Spokesman, Mubarak Hussain Shah, said that strike had crippled the PIA operations at the Islamabad Airport and passengers were facing many difficulties.