Vol. 5 Num 1071 Wed. June 06, 2007  
Front Page

Biman offers its staff voluntary retirement
Plan to cut manpower by 1,500

Biman Bangladesh Airlines yesterday offered its employees Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) as part of the government plan to turn the national flag carrier into a public limited company (PLC).

Biman's workforce will be reduced to 3,400 by axing about 1,500 current employees through the VRS.

Under the scheme, Biman has offered special packages to its employees whose service age exceeded at least five years.

As part of the VRS, the Biman employees who are in service for at least 25 years or more will get 15 percent more on their total gratuity as monetary benefits while who are in service for 20 to 25 years will get 20 percent on their total gratuity. The scheme also says the employees, who are in service for 15 to 20 years and 5 to 15 years will get 25 percent and 30 percent more respectively on their gratuity at a time.

The Biman employees interested in taking the benefits under the VRS will have to apply in a prescribed form by June 20, the circular said.

Meanwhile, the preparations for turning Biman Bangladesh Airlines into a PLC are almost complete.

Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism has finalised Memorandum of Association (rules and regulations of Biman), Articles of Association (terms and conditions) and ordinance, under which Bangladesh Biman Corporation would turn into Bangladesh Airlines Limited, sources said.

At the Biman head office yesterday, it was found that the Biman employees are in a dilemma over the VRS. Many Biman officials and employees were seen calculating the profit and loss of the scheme while many others were a bit worried sensing possible forced retirement if they do not respond to the current scheme.

"I don't know what will happen to me if I refuse the VRS notice," a Biman official, who has served Biman for 10 years, said. On May 19, the Council of Advisers approved to turn the national flag carrier into a PLC by June for making it a healthy and profitable commercial venture.

A high-powered committee headed by the secretary of the civil aviation ministry in March made recommendations to this effect.

The national flag carrier now has a 4,900-strong manpower.

As a PLC, Biman Bangladesh Airlines will be owned by at least seven public organisations through floating of shares, a high official of Biman said.

A company board would be formed comprising these organisations that will take all decisions regarding Biman.

Ministry of Civil Aviation would send the draft of ordinance to law ministry within a few days for vetting, he said adding that after getting their (law ministry) approval, papers would be sent to Joint Stock Company office for registration.

Then the Council of Advisers will give the final approval that will turn Biman into a PLC.

"Under the Memorandum of Articles, the rules and regulations, nature of business, capital, management of Biman as PLC have been identified, while under the Articles of Association, terms and conditions of PLC have been explained," a Biman high official said while talking to The Daily Star.

"After completing all processes, the president will issue a new ordinance, which will replace the prevailing ordinance (1978) under which Biman is running now," Managing Director of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dr MA Momen told The Daily Star yesterday.

"Present logo and call sign of Biman will remain unchanged," he said adding that the liabilities, audit and balance of Biman would be worked out soon.

About rejection of the VRS notice, a high official of Biman Bangladesh Airlines said that they would decide about this after the given date expires. "Biman will try to ensure that its skilled officials and employees do not leave under this scheme," he added.

Implementation of the VRS scheme will require Tk 300 crore and the World Bank has already provided the amount to the government, sources said.

After turning into a PLC, a private operator will be appointed to run the airlines on a commercial basis, a Biman official said.

Biman now has Air Service Agreement (ASA) with 42 countries, of which it uses only 18.