SriLankan signs agreement with largest employee union

Wednesday, 15 December 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SriLankan Airlines has signed a historic three-year Collective Agreement with its largest employee union, the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya (SLNSS), introducing a performance-driven work culture that would pave the National Carrier’s way forward to the future.

SriLankan CEO Manoj Gunawardena said: “Throughout the process of negotiation, both the management and the union were of one view – that the Airline must be the catalyst of the nation’s development, for which we require the full support of all our employees, placing country before self. In 2009 our employees gave up their increments, and many managers took voluntary pay cuts.”

Following the purchase of Emirates Airline’s shareholding in SriLankan, the Government now holds 94.68% of the ownership of the National Carrier, with the remaining 5.32% distributed among employees. The Government has identified tourism as a major sector of growth that is expected to spark Sri Lanka’s long-term economic boom.

The Airline’s Head of Human Resources Pradeepa Dahanayake said: “This comprehensive agreement has achieved our broad objective which is to promote and safeguard the interests of all major stakeholders of SriLankan Airlines, including the Government of Sri Lanka and our employees. The result of this agreement, which encourages employees to actively contribute towards productivity, is a win-win situation for all parties, demonstrating clearly that we all have the interests of the National Carrier at heart.”

This agreement comes in the wake of the groundbreaking productivity based agreement with the Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka, by which the pilots agreed to increase the flying hours from 900 to 1,000 per year.

SriLankan is in the midst of a rapid expansion programme that will see it acquiring nine aircraft within an 18-month period from July 2010 to the end of 2011, three of which have already arrived. The airline is about to re-launch its domestic service SriLankan Air Taxi, and will also commence services to Guangzhou (Canton) and Kochi within the next three months, taking its global route network to 51 cities in 31 countries.

It has also greatly increased capacity to many of its existing destinations including London, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Male, Karachi, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and is set to enhance the levels of comfort and sophistication of its fleet by adding the latest luxurious flatbeds and AVOD entertainment systems (Audio-Video On Demand) in Business Class by June 2011.

At Bandaranaike International Airport, where SriLankan is the sole ground handler for all airlines, it has already doubled its cargo handling capacity and increased its passenger handling capabilities. Other areas that are being developed rapidly are its capacity to handle aircraft maintenance for airlines in the region, and its facilities as a regional aviation training centre with the addition of a full flight simulator to train pilots.

The agreement covers approximately half of the Airline’s employees during the period 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2013. The Airline, which currently has a staff of 4,800, also has four smaller unions representing pilots, cabin crew, aircraft engineers, and aircraft technicians. Discussions are currently ongoing with the Flight Attendants’ Union, Association of Licensed Aircraft Engineers, and SriLankan Airlines Aircraft Technicians Association.

The SLNSS SriLankan Airlines Branch was represented at the negotiations by its Executive Committee led by President Prasanna Welivita and General Secretary Janaka Wijayapathirathna. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, which acted as facilitator, was represented by Kanishka Weerasinghe, its Deputy Director General. Representing the SLNSS Parent Union at the negotiations were Leslie Devendra, General Secretary, and Ranjith Hettiarachchi, Secretary for Privatised and State Institutions.