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[INGLÊS] Pakistan's state airline suspends flights after workers die in protest


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Pakistan's state airline suspends flights after workers die in protest


Two men killed and eight injured during demonstration in Karachi against plans to privatise troubled Pakistan International Airlines


Flights on Pakistan’s state-owned airline have been suspended after two staff were killed during a protest against plans to privatise the ailing carrier.


Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) began shutting down services on Tuesday in solidarity with the victims after a violent confrontation between striking employees and law enforcers near the company’s headquarters in Karachi.


Officials said eight other people were wounded in a standoff with members of the security forces, who deployed water cannon and teargas to block workers from marching to the main entrance to Karachi airport.


Suhail Baluch, the chairman of PIA’s joint action committee, an alliance of unions, said: “They didn’t tell us they would be using force. Firing straight at unarmed people is unacceptable.”


The police and the Rangers, a paramilitary organisation with a lead role in securing the city, denied that any of their officers opened fire and announced an investigation.


Selling off the struggling national carrier was one of the election pledges of the ruling faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, and is a condition of a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.


On Monday, legislation was passed to stop airline workers from striking for six months, although the PIA union vowed to fight on.


In the wake of the killings, the Pakistan Airline Pilots’ Association said its members would join the strike.


The government hopes to find a buyer for a strategic stake, but the airline requires a radical overhaul. The carrier has become notorious for waste, poor service and chronic overstaffing caused by decades of political appointments.


Considered one of the world’s best airlines in the 1970s, PIA’s ageing fleet and chronic management troubles have turned it into a major burden on Pakistan’s finances.

The airline has faced a number of embarrassing scandals, including pilots found to have been flying over the alcohol limit or without proper qualifications.

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