Biman forms committee to review worker lay-offs

The board of Biman Bangladesh Airlines has formed a committee to look into the situation of nearly 2,000 former employees who were made redundant when the national carrier transformed into a public limited company in 2007, an official said Saturday.

bdnews24.com
Published : 25 July 2009, 12:30 PM
Updated : 25 July 2009, 12:30 PM
Dhaka, July 25 (bdnews24.com)—The board of Biman Bangladesh Airlines has formed a committee to look into the situation of nearly 2,000 former employees who were made redundant when the national carrier transformed into a public limited company in 2007, an official said Saturday.
"The committee will submit its report after considering the feasibility of reinstating the former employees," Biman chairman Jamal Uddin Ahmed told bdnews24.com following a Biman board meeting.
"We will forward the report to the government to make a final decision on the matter," he said.
Biman was made a public limited company in July 2007, since when 1,863 employees of the company have been laid off in phases with redundancy payments.
A Tk 300 crore loan was taken from the World Bank to pay for the redundancy package.
"We can't reinstate the workers without governmental approval, or decide on what amount of redundancy money would be recouped from the former employees," said Jamal.
He said the caretaker government had initially decided to retire the workers.
"We may now have to suspend the 'voluntary retirement' scheme. Moreover, a decision must be made regarding the loan repayments to the World Bank," said Jamal.
To date, 530 disgruntled former employees have petitioned the High Court for reinstatement of their jobs. The court has ruled on about half the petitions, ordering Biman to reinstate hundreds of the redundant workers. The rest are pending.
Jamal said as the High Court verdicts had ordered reinstatement of some of the employees, it would not be fair to the others if similar action was not taken on their behalf.
The committee is headed by AFM Mesbahuddin, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and a member of Biman's executive council.
Biman's CEO and MD Mohammad Zakiul Islam, Iqbal Ahmed of Dhaka University's Institute of Business Administration and chartered accountant Shah Mohammad Zakaria Bhuiyan are also members.
Disgruntled
Hundreds of disgruntled redundant workers staged a sit-down protest last Sunday (June 19) in front of Balaka Bhaban, the Biman headquarters, demanding reinstatement of their jobs.
Over 500 of the entrenched staff held the hour-long protest, followed by a rally, at the airline's offices adjacent to Zia International Airport .
Biman Workers' League president, KM Shah Alam, said on the day the High Court had given rulings on reinstating their jobs.
"But the Biman board of directors is not moving to give our jobs back," he said during the rally.
Officials submitted a memorandum to the chairman of the board of directors after the protest and rally.
Alam said they would observe another protest programme on July 26. "If our demands are not met we will launch a tougher movement," he said.
bdnews24.com/rb/pks/am/0125h
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher