The ministry of civil aviation has frozen promotions of almost all employees and banned new recruitment at Air India and Indian, ahead of a merger of the two state-owned airlines.
The decision to hold back time-bound promotions, which will affect most of the airlines’ nearly 34,000 workers, is being opposed by labour unions.
The ministry plans to hold back the promotions until the merger process gathers momentum, so that employees can be deployed according to the needs of the organization.
Civil aviation minister Praful Patel and senior ministry officials have repeatedly said no employee will be retrenched as a result of the merger, which is expected to be completed within two years.
A grouping of worker unions and associations at Indian , the domestic airline, said they had not been formally informed about the promotion freeze.
“We were given to understand that after the settlement (based on ongoing negotiations with the management), most of the employees would get a promotion,” said J.B. Kadian, convenor of Indian Airlines Joint Action Committee, a body representing eight worker labour groups at Indian formed to negotiate promotions, payment of arrears and wage parity with Air India workers.
“If they ban it, it will affect career progression of the entire workforce,” he added.
A ministry spokeswoman said the promotion freeze would apply on employees currently serving below the level of general managers, the third tier below the managing director.
Senior officials—executive directors and general managers—will not be covered by this decision, which was conveyed to the Air India and Indian managements soon after the Union cabinet approved the merger on 1 March.