New Delhi/Mumbai: Nothwithstanding a warning by Air India management, employees of the national carrier “walked out” of work for two hours this afternoon as part of their nationwide protest against delayed payment of salaries.
The protest, called by Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG), Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) and some other unions, saw employees coming out of their offices in Delhi and Mumbai and stage demonstrations from 1pm besides threatening to boycott their meetings with the management.
Around 300 employees, carrying red flags, assembled infront of the old terminal shouting slogans in Delhi against the management and demanding immediate payment of salaries.
“The government cannot defer the salary as per Payment of Wages Act. It must pay the salary by 10 July. The compnay is not following rules and regulations and taking decisions which is not in the interests of employees,” J B Kadiyan, general secretary of ACEU, said.
In Mumbai, AIEG general secretary, George Abraham, said, “We are staging a walk-out and demonstration for two hours as the management has failed to honour its committment given to the unions to pay our June salaries by today.”
There were no reports of disruption of AI services from the airport due to the protest.
The workers went ahead with their strike despite a staff notice issued earlier in the day by AI warning that “any participation in the illegal strike would be viewed seriously and appropriate action, including deduction of wages and withdrawal of Productivity-Linked Incentive till further orders, will be taken.”
Warning them of “firm” action if flights were disrupted and passengers inconvenienced, the staff notice said the agitation by the Joint Action Forum would violate the Industrial Disputes Act and “tantamount to illegal strike”.
Last night, AI CMD Arvind Jadhav had written to the employees that besides wages and salary payments every month, fuel and bank liabilities like interest and principal payments, have to be paid on time.
However, the unions blamed the management of “going back on their word” to pay the salaries by today.
The unions had called off their proposed strike on 30 June after the management agreed to pay salaries of 70% of workers by Friday. They were protesting the earlier decision of the management to defer the June salary by the middle of this month.
Kadiyan alleged that the company is being “damaged systematically by certain vested interests who want to sell Air India off. This we will never allow.”
He also demanded a CBI enquiry into the Air India’s plan to buy 68 aircraft for Rs6,000 crore when its annual budget is Rs7,000 crore.
“The total budget of Air India is Rs7,000 crore and then why it decided to buy aircraft worth Rs6,000 crore. Air India has plans to purchase 24 aircraft and Indian Airlines has plan to buy 43 aircraft. But later Air India changed its fleet plan and within 24 weeks firmed a plan to buy 68 aircraft,” he said.