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PIA's history and industrial relations.

PIA's History and Industrial Relations

ISHTIAQ AHMED QURESHI, is the General Manager Industrial Relations, PIA. He holds Master's degree in Arts and Bachelorsdegree in Law besides having Diplomas in Industrial and Labour Laws from Karachi University and Basic Management Programme from Manila, Philippines. Mr. Qureshi's service experience spans over 20 years in various managerial capacities. His main area of professional interest ranges from Personnel Management to Rules making and interpretation. His achievements also include various compilations and publications.

Pakistan, at creation, inherited Orient Airways - a private company. The small aircraft operated by this airlines did not permit non-stop flights, between East and West Pakistan - the two integral parts of the country - which were not linked with any surface route. In 1954, therefore, the Government established Pakistan International Airlines and started non-stop flights between the two wings (Karachi-Dhaka), with three Super-constellations. In 1955, PIA and Orient Airways were merged to form PIAC with an authorised capital of Rs. 50 million, with a fleet of 3 Super-constellations, 2 Convairs - 240 and 10 DC-3. The year after that, it started flights to London. To cater for the increased traffic load, Convairs were replaced with Vickers Viscounts in 1958-59 and the DC-3 with Fokker (F-27), two years later.

PIA was the first Asian carrier to operate a jet aircraft (B-707 leased from PANAM) on London route. The encouraging results of this operation prompted PIA to purchase 3 Boeings (B-720) in 1961-62. PIA is also the first airline to start service to Western Europe through Moscow and from a non-communist country to China. Opened in 1963-64, PIA's China flight made history. Ten years later, Karachi-Beijing-Tokyo flights were routed overflying the Karakorams, thus economising the flight time and distance.

Keeping pace with its consistent progress, PIA replaced Viscounts with Tridents and, in turn, with B-707/B-720 and subsequently entered into the family of carriers operating Jumbo Jet by introducing Wide Body (DC-10) in 1974, Jumbo (B-747) in 1976, and Airbus (A-300) in 1980. Today, PIA's fleet consists on: a) Boeing 747-200 - 8, b) A-300 - B4 - 8, c) Boeing 707 - 5, d) Boeing 737-300 - 6, e) Fokker (F-27) - 14, f) f) Twin Otter - 2.

Today, PIA embraces 45 international and 32 domestic stations as against the 9 domestic destinations which were on its route in the beginning. However, the 70's ended on a rather dismal note for the airline as overstaffing, deteriorating performance and a general complacency coupled with massive increase in fuel price, seriously affected PIA's profitability and tarnished its image at home and abroad.

In order to save the airline from further deterioration, the Government made changes in the management and promulgated MLR-52 in January 1981, thereby banning union activities. This strategy, coupled with proper planning and freshly diffused spirit of discipline and feelings of hardwork among the employees, paid dividends by turning the tide of low profits experienced during the past two years, and the airlines earned a profit of 220 million, substantially exceeding its own target of Rs. 130.50 million fixed at the start of the year. Besides pursuing its own economic pursuits, PIA plays an important national-building role by supporting the families of nearly 20,000 employees and by contributing significantly, to the training of technicians, engineers and skilled workers for their gainful employment within PIA and outside. PIA is a roaming Ambassador of the country and helps project Pakistan - its cities, cultures and heritage - and wins friends and goodwill for it.

The PIA Training Centre at Karachi is fully equipped to impart comprehensive instructions in all major fields of airline industry - flying, engineering, marketing, management etc., and, courses are conducted in conformity with the industry requirements and the standards laid down by the Regularity Bodies within and outside the country - Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the United Kingdom, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Todate, PIA has successfully trained the personnel of 29 foreign airlines and personnel of 5 more airlines are presently undergoing training at this Centre. The airline is also an active prompter of sport.

In the light of the present achievements, PIA's future potential appears very promising. However, factors like fuel price-hike, capacity controls, traffic and routing limitations imposed by bilateral constraints have to be kept in mind.

In the face of many handicaps, defying all odds and overcoming every obstacle, PIA continues to carry with pride, the crescent and star to four continents around the globe. Despite its special constraints and those posed by the international operating environments in general, PIA has held its own and with God's help, the nation's good wishes and continued dedication of its personnel, the airlines will keep flying high even in today's fiercely competitive world of international aviation.

Industrial Relations in PIAC

PIA occupies a unique position in industrial and commercial community of the country. It differs from other establishments in the sense that the Corporation besides being a commercial enterprise has been recognised as an essential service playing a very important role outside the country as a roving ambassador and a second line of defence for the nation and the country as a whole. In order to achieve the objective of the organisation that is commercial, a sound labour-management relationship has to be maintained all through. The national character of PIA demands a judicious "Industrial Relations Policy". It is the Corporation's policy to create the most cordial and sound employee/management relationship throughout the organisation. It is through this policy that the management has been able to maintain a peaceful relationship through different Associations and CBA (Collective Bargaining Agent).

Our personnel problems are of multifarious nature as we have various categories of employees not only employed in Pakistan but at foreign stations where we are governed by local laws of that specific country. In a sensitive organisation like PIA where about 22,000 employees are working, the field of labour relations assumes greater importance. Communication between the various levels of management and employees needs to be maintained effectively with a view to create a healthy working environment recommending the management, the solutions to various problems keeping in view the existing labour laws and Corporation's policies: * that the working conditions and

physical environments conform with the

labour laws in areas covered under

the Factories Act; * keeping management informed of the

existing and proposed labour

legislations, court decisions, labour activities

and trends within and outside PIA; * carrying out regular inspection of the

areas covered under the Factories Act

to ensure that proper working

conditions exist and the provision of the

applicable labour laws are not violated; * carrying out a comparative study of

the working conditions without the

Corporation and other similar

organisations in Pakistan. * maintaining upto-date records of the

agreements between the management

and unions/associations; * maintaining constant liaison with

Labour Department, National Industrial

Relations Commission, Employers'

Federation of Pakistan and other

related agencies on Industrial Relations

affairs; * processing cases for employment of

the dependent children of

deceased/retired/serving employees of PIA in

accordance with the management's

policies; * organising Shop Committee meetings

at the level of Divisional and

Departmental Heads with the

representatives of the CBA to resolve the local

problems, if any.

Management of the Corporation also believes in creating better working conditions. Goods working conditions not only mitigate personal problems but also help in creating a high state of employee morale. It is here that the welfare policy plays its part and shows results. We can safely say that we have a progressive outlook and attitude for the welfare and interest of our employees and we do not necessarily confine ourselves to the minimum protection offered to employees under the various laws. This interest manifests itself in two ways: a) by constantly improving the facilities and privileges available to its employees - or b) by maintaining an ongoing communication with all cadres of the employees as mentioned in the preceding paragraphs so that they get a feeling of well-being and of security.

Pursuant to this policy, following facilities and privileges are given to employees by the PIAC Management:

Increase in Pay and Allowances: Pay and allowances have been increased handsomely in the near-past.

Payment of Bonus: Inspite of Gulf war and financial crisis being faced by the PIAC, Management has approved the payment of bonus to the employees.

Free and concessional Air passage: Employees are allowed a set number of free and rebated passages on domestic as well as international routes each year.

Recruitment of employees' children: Employees' children, particularly those of the deceased employees, are given due consideration at the time of recruitment.

Medical facilities: PIA provides full medical coverage to its employees and their dependent family members (including dependent parents). For this purpose, PIA has its own hospital and peripheral dispensaries for providing indoor and outdoor treatment besides having hospitals of repute on its panel. Renowned professional specialists are also viable on the panel for treatment of our employees. Annually, a sum of Rs. 90 million is spent on medical facilities. A most modern and fully equipped with latest technology Diagnostic Centre has also been established at Karachi Airport at the cost of Rs. 20 million. A team from Cromwell Hospital, London was invited to Pakistan which performed Heart By-pass operations of PIA employees at Karachi. It is further planned to build a 300 bed comprehensive hospital at Karachi for employees and their dependent family members.

Canteens for Staff and Dining Halls for Officers: To provide whole-some meals, tea and snacks to our employees at subsidized rates, PIA has provided staff canteens in Head Office and at domestic stations. At Karachi alone, there are 20 canteens for staff and two dining halls for officers, besides two fast food shops. PIA is spending approximately a sum of Rs. 10 million as subsidy towards staff canteens.

PIA Township: PIA has established its own Township at Karachi. A palacious mosque including Darul-Uloom for religious teachings, full fledged dispensary, shopping centre, children park and playgrounds have also been provided in this Township.

PIA Model School: A Model School has been established in the PIA Township for the children of PIA employees, on payment of nominal fee upto secondary level.

Financial Assistance: Financial Assistance under the different Heads is provided to the employees of PIAC: (1) Welfare loans, (ii) Maternity Allowance, (iii) Education Allowance, (iv) Ex-gratia Grant Payment, and (v) Compensation under Group Insurance and other insurance scheme.

Haj/Umra facilities for Employees and their dependents: Limited number of seats on confirmed basis are offered every year against their entitlement to employees and their dependent family members for performance of Haj/Umra. It will not be wrong to conclude that even in the absence of the trade union/association, PIA Management has taken it upon itself as a moral obligation to look after the welfare of its employees. We take pride in the fact that our employees' working conditions, pay and allowances and particularly the terminal/retirement benefits are about the best in the country.
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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Industrial Relations in Pakistan '91; Pakistan International Airlines Corp.; interview with Ishtiaq Ahmed Qureshi
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:interview
Date:May 1, 1991
Previous Article:Worker seats should be reserved in the assembly.
Next Article:An overview of workers' struggle.

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