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SriLankan unions demand sacking of board ahead of restructuring

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan employees have unanimously voiced concern about mismanagement at the national carrier and asked the authorities to sack the entire board and their chief executive officer to save the debt-ridden carrier.

In an unusually blunt letter to their Chairman Ajith Dias, six unions said he had failed to revive the airline and, worse still, he was presiding over its rapid decline.

The unions were responding to a recent letter Dias had written to his 7,000 employees warning them that the carrier faced imminent closure unless they found an equity partner or managed to carry out a thorough restructuring.

Dias’s letter to his staff was an admission of his failure and a let-down of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who had initially reposed their trust in him, the unions said.

"Your board does not have the prerequisite competencies or the attributes to manage our airline, leave alone bring any stability to it," the unions told Dias in their three-page letter which was copied to senior government figures.

They also pointed out that the new CEO, Suren Ratwatte, a former pilot who had flown for Sri Lankan and Emirates, had no business or managerial experience and was a complete misfit.

Neither Dias nor Ratwatte should have any role in a restructured Sri Lankan airlines and both should be held accountable for their actions in causing a further slide of the carrier, the unions warned.

"We wish to categorically state that if you, the CEO or any one of your board members is retained and remain a constituent of the management of our company, post-restructuring, we have no confidence in, or trust that the said process will be effective and yield the desired results."

The unions also faulted Dias and his board for not pursuing the corruption uncovered by the J. C. Waliamuna report which was commissioned by Minister Arjuna Ranatunga soon after the new government came to power in January 2015.

Dias had dismissed much of the Weliamuna findings as "hearsay," the unions said.





He had also refused to carry out inquiries against the release of a Sri Lankan air hostess to do  personal duties for Namal Rajapaksa, the legislator son of former president.

The Weliamuna report recommended that Sri Lankan recover the 4.2 million rupees paid to the air hostess, Miss Nithya Senani Samaranayake, even when she did not do any work for the airline, but attended to personal needs of Rajapaksa. The new board headed by Dias had not initiated any action against her although she returned to the national carrier after the change of government in 2015.

The Sri Lankan management came to know that Miss Samaranayake was back with them and flying as a cabin crew member when she was arrested by the CID as she was about to board a flight. She is now on bail in connection with a money laundering scam. (COLOMBO, December 13, 2017)

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