Rabbani, trade union leaders reject plane crash inquiry panel

Updated May 27 2020


Inclusion of Palpa representative in commission sought. — AFP/File
Inclusion of Palpa representative in commission sought. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani, labour leader Karamat Ali and members of different trade unions have rejected the composition of the inquiry commission constituted by the federal government to investigate the May 22 PIA plane crash in Karachi and demanded inclusion of Palpa representative in the panel.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, Senator Rabbani, Karamat Ali, secretary of the National Labour Council and executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler); Nasir Mansoor, secretary general of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF); Habibuddin Junaidi, president of the Peoples Labour Bureau, Sindh; Liaquat Sahi of the Democratic Workers Union, State Bank of Pakistan; Zehra Khan of Home-based Women Workers Federation; Farhat Parveen of NOW Communities and others demanded that representatives of the PIA trade unions be also heard during the inquiry.

They pointed out that the history of plane crash inquiry commissions in the country had remained quite sordid with reports being doctored and tampered with and many times these reports have not been released at all.

The reason for this, they said, was to protect vested interests of the management.

Inclusion of Palpa representative in commission sought

They said that the inquiry commission constituted by the federal government is soaked in conflicts of interest for it is an inquiry done by one’s own peers, that is Pakistan Air Force officers. Then the inquiring officers are juniors in rank to officers whose organisation is being investigated.

The commission comprises only Air Force officers, and no person familiar with commercial flying and their procedures has been included. The commission is also devoid of any rated pilot or the one who has flown an Airbus. Lastly, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and air traffic control are to be under scrutiny but the CAA is also represented in the commission.

“The air crash can be viewed in isolation but a holistic view of the management, procedures, job security and the relationship between the management and the unions/associations will need to be taken on to ascertain whether employees of PIAC were functioning under duress and strain.

“Since the injection of a serving officer as the CEO of PIAC, there has been a total clampdown in the airline. The final nail in the coffin was imposition of the Essential Services Act. As a consequence to that all trade unions and associations were banned and all agreements between the management and all categories of employees were made void, plunging employees into uncertainty about job security and career planning,” the statement said.

“The decision to impose essential service law on PIAC and banning trade unions was an ultra-constitutional act and tantamount to violating the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and committed under the UN declarations.

“While the top management enjoys perks and privileges, the cabin crew and other staff are denied their allowances,” the statement further said.

It demanded of the federal government to reconstitute the commission in the light of the above objections and add representative of pilots’ association Palpa in the commission.

They also demanded restoration of trade union activities in the airline by lifting the Essential Services Act from the organisation.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2020