Discontent brewing over pay, warns Air India union

Discontent brewing over pay, warns Air India union

Mumbai: At least two major trade unions of the National Aviation Co. of India Ltd-run Air India have opposed a proposal to halve productivity-linked incentives, which is estimated to save the carrier Rs700 crore.

These incentives currently account for 30-50% of the salary of Air India employees.

Members of the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) and All India Aircraft Engineers’ Association met in Mumbai on Tuesday to discuss their next move.

“There is a simmering discontent among the employees about the deferment and late payment of wages, which till now, we as unions leaders have tried to contain," ICPA said in a statement.

“So if in (the) near future, this simmering discontent spills over, we as responsible union leaders will not be able to control (it)," it added.

This is the third month that a number of Nacil employees are facing salary delays.

Air India’s board will meet on Wednesday in Mumbai to approve several cost-cutting measures to make itself eligible for equity infusion and soft loans from the government.

“We will decide about our future course of action based on the Air India board’s decision," IPCA general secretary R.S. Otal said.

Air India has committed to overhaul its operations and restructure debt of Rs15,241 crore. Its accumulated loss through fiscal year 2009 was at least Rs7,200 crore.

A spokesperson for the airline said the cut in incentives was not the only cost-cutting measure taken by the carrier but was part of various other steps including cost control and revenue enhancement options.

“Many other international and domestic carriers such as Japan Airlines, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines had incurred losses. This is purely because of external conditions," the spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, hundreds of pilots of private sector carrier Jet Airways (India) Ltd went on mass sick leave for six days to protest the firing of two pilots instrumental in forming a pilots’ union.

The strike resulted in a revenue loss of $8 million (around Rs38.5 crore) a day for the airline.