Mumbai: Management of the National Aviation Co. of India Ltd (Nacil), which runs Air India, said on Tuesday that the unions would be consulted before a fresh turnaround plan is readied for the ailing national carrier, according to two executives of the airline.
Nacil chairman and managing director (CMD) Arvind Jadhav and other executives held out the assurance at a meeting they held with the unions, said the two officials who attended the meeting, but declined to be named as the proceedings were meant to be confidential.
The meeting was held to apprise the unions about the background to the derecognition of two labour groups after a flash strike by staff last month.
Nacil is preparing a turnaround strategy for Air India, which accumulated losses of Rs8,461.88 crore between fiscal years 2007 through 2009. Its loss in the fiscal year ended 31 March has been estimated at Rs5,400 crore.
The Nacil management told the unions on Tuesday that a second meeting would be held where newly inducted independent directors of Air India would be present to hear out the employees’ representatives.
Air India has 13 trade unions, including the All India Air Engineers Association (AIAEA) and Air Corporation Employees Union (Aceu), both of which were derecognized by Nacil last week after their members went on a flash strike on 25 May. AIAEA and Aceu were barred from Tuesday’s meeting.
The industrial action resulted in the cancellation of 138 flights and a loss of Rs10 crore to the carrier, following which the management also terminated 58 staffers and suspended 26.
George Abraham, general secretary of the Aviation Industry Employees Guild that represents 8,000 Air India employees, confirmed that the airline would facilitate another meeting with independent directors, but did not say when that would be.
“Air India top management told us that we can share our inputs with independent directors for finalizing a fresh turnaround plan shortly. These independent directors would also convey our take on Air India’s losses to the Prime Minister,” he said.
Anand Mahindra, vice-chairman and managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd; Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry secretary general Amit Mitra; Ambuja Realty Development Ltd chairman Harsh Neotia and former air force chief Fali H. Major joined the airline’s board in March as part of a plan to restore the loss-making national airline to financial health.
One of the Air India executives mentioned earlier said Jadhav expressed his appreciation for the efforts of employees who handled the emergency situation in Mangalore where an air crash killed 158 people on 22 May.
“In today’s meeting, Air India CMD (Jadhav) pointed out that if the employees treat mounting losses as financial emergency and put out similar teamwork, the airline could fly back into profits in a year’s time,” the other executive said.
He also added that most of the union representatives suggested that the management take back employees who were sacked in the wake of a Delhi high court ruling declaring the flash strike illegal.
“Rather than the path of confrontation, Air India will have to opt for the path of reconciliation,” Abraham said.
However, members of the All India Cabin Crew Union opposed the reinstatement of sacked employees.
“This is the time for consolidation; not confrontation,” Jadhav said in a media statement after the meeting.