New Delhi: State-run Air India Ltd’s largest pilot union, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) is meeting in Delhi on Thursday to decide on a possible agitation plan after a letter from the airline management earlier this week indicated that flying allowances may be cut.
The 22 January notification sent by Air India to employees said December salaries will be paid by 24 January. The note, signed by Nilufer Bharda, deputy general manager, finance, indicates that only 75% of the allowances due may be paid, said a member of the union who declined to be named.
The airline is currently implementing the recommendations of the Dharmadhikari panel on rationalising salaries following the absorption of the erstwhile Indian Airlines into Air India.
The ICPA’s members comprise the airline’s 600 pilots who fly local routes and used to belong mostly to Indian Airlines.
The union pointed out earlier to the government that the allowances have been delayed for months.
“The deferment of flying allowances has become a regular practice and is in complete violation of the memorandum of settlement signed between ICPA and the management in front of the chief labour commissioner” in November 2009, T. Praveen Keerthi, ICPA general secretary wrote to Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan on 24 December. “The flying allowances are due for four months and there is no effort from the management to even notify the employees of the delay in payment.”
Keerthi also complained about delays in salary payment.
“I’m sure you will agree that workmen are free to follow ‘no pay, no work’ rule as extracting work from the employees without payment is exploitation of labour,” he had written. “In view of this, ICPA will henceforth be forced to review its cooperation to the management.”
Last year, when pilots who fly international routes had gone on strike, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh had sacked the entire senior leadership of their union, the Indian Pilots’ Guild. He has since refused to take them back into the airline. There have been no strikes in the airline since then.
At the time, IPG didn’t want pilots who fly domestic routes to be given training on the new Dreamliner planes that were about to be inducted. The six Dreamliners of the carrier have been grounded following safety related incidents, in line with the global stoppage, until the safety issues are resolved.