The National Flag Carrier, Pakistan International Airline (PIA) has always been in limelight. When we talk about PIA, what used to come in mind was overstaffing, ill-discipline, inefficiency, dis-ownness, politically inducted employees lacking will and capacity to work, and a company shackled by self-centered Unions and Associations.
The mentioned ills were good enough to drown a once top-of-the-line airline, PIA. All losses suffered by PIA can easily be attributable to human-resource-related issues mentioned above.
Different managements in the past tried their best to overcome these issues but due to political interference, nothing could be done and the airline stayed nose dive.
In September 2018, a PAF team led by Air Marshal Arshad Malik with five experts of respective fields were given the charge of PIA. The most difficult task was the HR transformation as rest of the recovery was dependent on the success of HR transformation. PIA at that time was facing HR issues in 2018.
The current management, in order to revive and bring landmark changes in PIA HR Department, deputed Air Commodore Amer Altaf as Chief Human Resource Officer, a highly educated and thorough professional, with a proven service record at various significant positions in the HR management setup of PAF. He was brought in PIA, keeping in view his acumen and experience and he certainly made it happen.
Being Head of Human Resource department of PIA; one of the most complex HR job in Pakistan, some of the significant steps taken by Air Commodore Amer Altaf to revive and restructure the HR department on modern lines are:-
(a) Employees were transferred as per the company’s requirements.
(b) Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) program was successfully implemented & completed resulting in successful separation of around 1900 employees.
(c) All record pertaining to discipline cases was gathered in a meticulous manner and a Central Discipline Unit was formed for follow-up of the disciplinary cases.
(d) More than 800 employees with fake degrees were dismissed.
(e) More than 1300 ghost employees were identified and terminated from service.
(f) Around 750 employees were dismissed after concluding the disciplinary cases.
(g) Number of employees have been reduced to around 8000 employees, which resulted in savings amounting to billions of rupees.
(h) The employees to aircraft ratio dropped from 1:520 to 1:260, almost compatible to industry norm.
(i) Around 1600 court cases were followed rigorously. As a result, approximately 750 have been decided in favour of PIA.
(j) ERP modules of HR were implemented bringing in efficiency and transparency.
(k) Employees related records were digitized enabling merit-based decisions.
(l) Explicit job description and job requirements were formulated along with associated KPIs.
(m) Merit was ensured in all promotion & foreign assignment boards; therefore, no board has been challenged in courts thus saving legal costs. Employees’ morale got raised as almost 4000 promotions were made.
(n) All Associations, which were big hindrances in the management processes, were derecognized and their interference was eradicated.
(o) Unions were restricted to their legal role as per the law of land.
(p) HR requirements for the company were rationalized as per the present day requirements.
(q) Organizational Development (OD) division was rejuvenated ensuring training of employees as per organizational needs.
(r) Policies were formalized and standardized to bring in equity and justice across all cadres.
Above strategic achievements are a big National level service. The HR of PIA is now a motivated workforce working without any political interference for the revival of this National asset.
The point in highlighting these achievements of an individual is that not everything is as bad as it is depicted in the rhetoric by some elements.
Individuals like Air Commodore Amer Altaf deserve to be appreciated so that these significant contributions are not lost in the mist of misinformation prevailing these days. Moreover, there are other positive changes which have been incorporated in PIA by current management which shall bear fruits provided the strategic direction remains the same and political and bureaucratic interventions in this state-owned company is ended. As is said that where there is a will, there is a way.