Several SriLankan Airlines unions are lobbying for the re-appointment of Mr. Harry Jayawardena as the Chairman of the national carrier and have met Ports and Aviation Minister Chamal Rajapakse in this connection.
Six trade unions, the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, the Flight Attendants Union, the Pilots Guild, Licensed Engineers Union, Technicians Union and the Catering Union claimed that the incumbent SriLankan Chairman, Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera, had indicated that he could devote only `one hour of his time` a day to the airline as he was tied up at the Treasury.
The unions urged that the national carrier urgently needed a strong personality to turn it around and the man for the job was Harry Jayawardena.
`It will be difficult for anyone else to match up to him because somebody else will have to learn from scratch while Jayawardena who has served as the airline s chairman knew what had to be done, the unions said.
They told the minister that during the few months Jayawardena held office in the airline senior managers were in their seats by 9 am and there was no abuse of vehicles and no wastage. Managers thought twice before approving expenditure as small as Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000.
The unions claimed that the Emirates management had planted people to run down the airline and disliked Jayawardena who wanted to trim the fat and instill discipline from top to bottom.
They expressed the view that Emirates, owning 49% of the airline, had pressured the government not to re-appoint Jayawardena.
The minister was told that the Jayawardena controlled Aitken Spence group was managing several South Indian Hotels, operating luxury resorts in the Maldives and is into port management in South Africa.
They said that it was up to the minister, in consultation with the president, to make the best appointment to lead the airline.
The unions were meeting with Deputy Aviation Minister Sarthchandra Gunaratne at the ministry office at Chaitya Road last week when Minister Chamal Rajapakse unexpectedly walked in.
The Aviation Ministry s Secretary, Mr. Vidanage, was also present at meetings between the unions and the deputy minister.
Union sources said that the unexpected meeting with Minister Rajapakse was the first they have had since the government took over the SriLankan management from Emirates.