Employees of ailing Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) started to return to work on Wednesday, following the decision by the Joint action Committee (JAC) of PIA employees to end the strike against the proposed privatisation of the national flag carrier.
However, local exporters of perishable goods have claimed that the strike by the national carrier has caused millions of rupees in losses as their perishable goods were stuck at cargo terminals
in Karachi and other airports in Pakistan.
The country's fruit and vegetable growers export more than 20 tonnes of fruits, vegetables and halal meat products every day to countries such as Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, the U.S. and various European destinations, which are transported on flights of PIA and other airlines.
According to a spokesman of the All Pakistan Vegetable Exporters and Importers Association, more than 30 percent of all perishables exports are carried by PIA. Following the PIA shutdown earlier last week, these products have not been transported to their destinations, which is causing losses of millions of rupees, the exporters claim.
Mysterious ‘kind friend’
Karachi Vegetable Market Association president, Haji Shahjahan, was quoted as saying the Dawn newspaper that in 2014-15 Pakistani exporters sold their vegetables and other perishable items to more than 90 countries in the world. However, this year the country was exporting its products to only 49 countries.
Meanwhile, Sohail Baloch, the chairman of the Joint action Committee (JAC) of PIA employees, said at a press conference that the eight-day long strike had been called off following the advise of "a kind friend", and because of the assurance given by the government to resolve issues.
Under a bill, which was passed in parliament in January, PIA will be converted into a public limited company and be split into two companies. The government plans to sell the control of its core business to a global airline, with Qatar Airways rumoured to be a main contender.
Nol van Fenema
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