Workers urge management to pay monthly wages until contributions are cleared Government red tape delays release of funds to PIA
KARACHI: Cash-strapped Pakistan International Airlines failed to pay pension contributions for around 2,000 employees who opted for the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) which ended on December 31 of last year , we learned on Monday.
Affected workers across the country called on Prime Minister Imran Khan to step in to save their families from a serious crisis. They said they would be forced to launch a protest campaign if their dues were not paid by the end of this week.
As the PIA remained silent on the situation, a senior official told Dawn the delay was due to the federal government, which failed to transfer the necessary funds to PIA due to an audit objection raised by the ministries concerned.
The [PIA] management cannot speak out publicly against bureaucratic red tape, but it does strive to secure the funding necessary to pay employees as early as possible. He called on the government to do a post audit of funds rather than a due diligence that would take months.
The PIA had launched the VSS for its employees on December 7, 2020, with a validity of two weeks, but its deadline was extended until December 31. He had approved the demands of 1,924 of the 2,000 employees, released them on the last day. of the previous year and promised them that their contributions would be paid until January 31, 2021.
The airline calculated that it needed around 9.8 billion rupees to clear the dues and has asked the federal government to release the amount since the cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) approved in November 2020 the VSS to 3,500 PIA employees, but did not release Rs12.8bn as requested by the aviation division without knowing the exact number of employees willing to take advantage of the offer.
However, the employees and their families faced immense hardship and mental agony due to the non-payment of their VSS dues or wages for January.
On Monday, a large number of former employees held a meeting here and condemned the negative attitude of PIA management towards them. They demanded that the prime minister play his role in resolving the crisis and that management pay them monthly salaries until their dues are cleared.
They also called for medical facilities for their parents and relatives to be restored immediately.
A source said during the meeting, PIA management contacted a former employee to ask him to defuse the situation, as their dues would be paid within days.
In Lahore, the former employees decided to hold a meeting Tuesday (today) to finalize their strategy of launching a national demonstration in front of the press clubs of the big cities.
Some employees said the Karachi meeting, however, decided to wait before giving a date to launch the protest campaign.
Speaking to Dawn, many employees claimed that they did not want to call on VSS, but had no choice but to apply for early retirement after management unnecessarily moved them to Islamabad and d ‘other cities.
Dozens of former employees have taken to social media to highlight their plight in front of government officials as well as opposition leaders.
In a tweet to PM Khan, former PIA employee Ghulam Akbar Sohu said: I opted for the VSS system in PIA and posted on December 31, 2020 against management’s commitment that all contributions will be paid before Jan 31, 2021 but total silence till date pls help us and watch this issue.
Another former employee, Jam Kashif, tweeted: The federal government has approved the VSS program for PIA employees, but the approved funds have not yet been provided to PIA, so PIA employees are in dire straits. miserable situation because salaries have also been stopped since 31.12.2020.
PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan did not respond to a request from Dawn for an official version.
Posted in Dawn, February 16, 2021
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