Biman goes on 48-hour strike from April 16
Biman officers and employees on Tuesday announced a 48-hour strike from April 16 to press their demand for the resignation of the chairman and reconstitution the board of directors of the national airlines.
They have been demanding the reconstitution of the board with the civil aviation
minister as the chairman as was the practice until 2007 when Biman was made a public limited company with the declared objective of running it on commercial lines.
‘No employee would report to work from 6 AM on April 16 to 6 AM on April 18, convener of Biman Banchao Oikya Parisad(Save Biman Unity Council), a platform of the agitating employees, Moshikur Rahman, told a protest rally at Biman head office in the city.
‘But the work abstention would not be necessary if our demands are met by the time,’ he said.
He told the rally that all services of the state-owned airlines, including flight operations, ground handling and catering would remain suspended during the period.
Representing all officers and employees of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Biman Sramik League, Society of Aircraft Engineers of Bangladesh, Biman Employees’ Union, Bangladesh Airline Pilots’ Association and Biman Officers’ Association attended the rally held under the banner of Biman Banchao Oikya Parishad at Balaka, which houses the head office of the airlines.
The union leaders declared the chairman of the Biman board of directors, retired air vice marshal Jamal Uddin Ahmed ‘persona non grata.’
Slogans chanted by the protesters said chairman, Jamal Uddin Ahmed would no more be allowed to enter Biman office.
The 105-minute protest rally had begun at 11 AM.
A group of protesters at one stage went to the chairman’s office room to lock it but returned as the empty office was under lock and key, said officials.
‘All officers, pilots and engineers would also join the work abstention for 48 hours. We will not take the responsibility for the losses caused by the strike as the government was given a month’s time to resolve issue,’ BAPA president SM Helal told New Age.
As the existing board completely failed to efficiently run the national airlines it again became a losing concern, he said.
‘We want more professionals on the restructured board,’ Helal told the rally.
Biman incurred a loss of about Tk 1,000 crore since it was made a public limited company in July 2007, the president of pro ruling Awami League labour organisation Biman Sramik League Moshikur told the rally.
‘The main objective of our movement is to save the national flag carrier from incurring further losses,’ he added.
Biman employees have been agitating since March 5 demanding dissolution of the board and making the minister the chairman of the restructured board, said officials.
Jamal Uddin was not available on phone for his comments.
Asked for his comments on the strike that might also halt all ground handling at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, the civil aviation minister, Muhammad Faruk Khan, said that the employees in a democracy had the right to hold rallies to push for their demands without affecting the service to the people.
He said that he would expect Biman management would resolve the matter through discussions with the agitating employees.
‘Biman management should take steps to free it from corruption and run the national flag carrier commercially,’ the minister told New Age.
Biman offers catering and ground handling services to other international airlines at Shahjalal Airport.
‘If the officers and employees of Biman go on strike, operations of other international airlines would be seriously affected as the national airline is responsible for ground handing at the airport,’ Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh chairman Mahmud Hussain told New Age.
He said that the government would have to look into the matter to avoid any such crisis.
On March 8, all Biman personnel, including the pilots and engineers formed a human chain at Biman head office to press the demand for replacing the board chairman Jamal Uddin Ahmed with the civil aviation minister as it was the practice before the airlines was turned into a public limited company in 2007.
The two-year emergency caretaker government turned Biman into a PLC and reconstituted its board with the declared objective of running the losing airlines commercially.
Biman, with a fleet of 12 aircraft, two 737-800s, four DC 10-30s, three A310-300s and three F28-4000s, carries passengers and cargo to 18 international destinations in Asia and Europe.
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