LAHORE - PIA headquarters and booking offices are likely to turn into battlefields today after management has pledged to open its offices while employees are firm to keep them closed in continuity of their week long protest against proposed privatisation of the airline.

If anyone tried to close the offices forcibly, the management would be forced to take help of any law enforcing agency, said a senior PIA officer seeking anonymity.

Well-placed sources in the national carrier said on Sunday that by tomorrow the protest of employees will take a new turn as they will suspend flight operation of PIA as per plans of the Joint Action Committee.

A senior officer said that airline employees were on strike against proposed privatisation of PIA for last one week and they kept PIA headquarters and booking offices closed throughout the week.

Pakistan government has assured them that privatisation plan has been postponed and there will be no job loss but even then airline employees were not calling off protest, said a spokesman for PIA.

He said that airline employees were also assured by the government that legislation would be made in the national assembly for the security of their jobs and gratuity etc but even then they were not ready to resume their duty.

The Joint Action Committee of PIA (JACPIA) has rejected government decision to defer the airline privatisation by six months and asked employees to continue their protest.

Employees have threatened to suspend flight operations if the decision to privatise the airline is not withdrawn and today is the last day of the deadline given by JACPIA in this regard.

“If our demands are not accepted by the airline management from tomorrow, we will suspend flight operation of the airline across the country,” said a JACPIA member, requesting not to be named.

A PIA employee said that more than 100 customers visit the Lahore booking office daily for booking and change of their tickets while other offices of airline in the country are closed for the last seven days. But airline management was claiming that no loss was being incurred to airline, he said. How it is possible that airline was not facing losses, he asked.

Lahore president of Peoples Unity of PIA employees, Sajid Gujjar told The Nation, “We have one point agenda and that is no to privatisation, no other option is acceptable to us.” He said that government will have to declare it in written form only then they will end their protest; otherwise, it will remain continue and flight operation will be suspended from Tuesday (tomorrow).

“We will go to any extent to save the airlines and our jobs as well,” Sajid maintained.

Secretary General of Air League of PIA Employees, Mehmood Bokhari said it was decision of JACPIA that offices of airlines will remain closed so they will follow the decision of committee.

He said, “Though my association is backed by ruling party but it is matter of our job.”