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Biman removes pilots’ association president amid wage dispute

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 2 December, 2021 12:00 AM
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Biman removes pilots’ association president amid wage dispute

President of the Bangladesh Airlines Pilots’ Association (BAPA) Captain Mahbubur Rahman has been terminated from his job amid an ongoing dispute between pilots and the Biman authorities over wages and allowances.

He was removed from the post on November 29, according to a letter signed by Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal, Biman managing director and CEO. A copy of the letter was sent to him by e-mail on Tuesday.

The letter said, “According to Article 59 (b) of Bangladesh Airlines Limited, the managing director of Biman, Dr Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal has ordered the dismissal. At Biman’s 265th board meeting on October 31, Biman’s MD was given the power to issue dismissal orders.”

No specific reason for removal was mentioned in the letter but Biman insiders told that he was removed for leading the recent pilots’ movement. However, Biman MD and CEO Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal denied the speculations.

“We did not terminate any president, we terminated a Biman captain,” he said.

Rahman, the pilot of a Biman Boeing 787 aircraft, did not comment on the matter.   On October 25, Biman Bangladesh Airlines pilots decided to stop working beyond the terms of their contracts, which led to delays on several international flights and sufferings for passengers. The authorities met with pilots several times to discuss the issue. Rahman had represented the pilots at the time.

On November 20, Biman Chairman Sajjadul Hassan said at an event that the Prime Minister had ordered an inquiry into who was responsible for the recent Biman schedule debacle. “Those who cause delay or disrupt Biman service will be held responsible,” Md Mahbub Ali, the state minister for civil aviation and tourism, said at the same event. Sources at Biman Bangladesh Airlines said that managing director and CEO Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal signed the order terminating Captain Mahbubur Rahman on November 29 following a board meeting of the airline on November 24 where he was tasked with ‘decisively removing, terminating, and taking departmental action’ on those who ‘hindered’ the operations of Biman. The national flag carrier is now operating flights on 19 international routes every day.

The pilots said they are supposed to fly 75 hours and have eight days of holiday a month in line with a contract between Biman and BAPA. As many as 157 pilots are on the payroll of Biman. They have been hit with a reduction in pay ranging from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of their salary since May 2020.

Salaries of other Biman officials have been adjusted in July this year but the pilots have been kept out of this process.

Since then Biman pilots have been threatening that they would refrain from flying additional flights if the authorities fail to address salary disparity between pilots and other employees.

Later, they waged a movement unofficially and stopped operating extra flights several times but didn’t get what they were demanding for.