2 min read.Updated: 23 May 2021, 07:40 PM ISTRhik Kundu
In a letter to Air India's CMD Rajiv Bansal, the Indian Pilots' Guild said three pilots with the airline lost their lives between 9 and 14 April
Pilots of national carrier Air India Ltd have asked the airline’s management to provide befitting compensations to families of colleagues that have lost their lives to the coronavirus while being in the line of duty.
In a letter to Air India's chairman and managing director Rajiv Bansal, the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), consisting of over 500 pilots flying widebody planes for the airline, said that three pilots with the airline lost their lives between 9 and 14 April.
"Staff notice HPD01/COVID/2020/423 dated 17/7/2020 informs of an Ad-hoc payment to the family / legal heir of employees, who die during the period of COVID-19. Sadly, this is the only measure taken by Air India to compensate the next of kin of an active employee who lost their life due to contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty," the letter said adding that Air India is reacting to death of its employees with indifference and neglect.
A copy of the letter has been reviewed by Mint.
The letter further points out that while public sector companies across the country are offering ex-gratia payment and compassionate employment to kin of the deceased, private airlines offering up to ₹5 crore to family of deceased pilots, and Delhi government offering ₹1 crore to family of deceased, the national carrier is yet to take similar steps to commensurate for loss of lives while being on duty.
"This prompts some important questions. Until how long will our service to the nation be taken for granted considering the pay cut and the lack of recognition of our contribution throughout the pandemic?," the letter said.
"What steps are being taken to ensure that aircrew/employees will be taken care of in case Covid-19 is contracted? And more importantly, in the unfortunate event of the demise of an employee, how will the next of kin be compensated/looked after?," it added.
The letter from IPG comes few weeks after the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union of the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots and pilots of narrow body aircraft of the airline, informed the management that they would stop working if the company failed to set up vaccination camps across the country for its flying crew.
ICPA had then said that many crew members of the airline have been diagnosed with coronavirus, are struggling to get oxygen cylinders and are left to fend for themselves for the hospitalization process.
While Air India's management immediately responded stating that all employees will be vaccinated by May-end, the plan had to be deferred due to shortage of vaccines.
India has seen an unabated rise in fresh covid-19 cases in the last few days, with daily additions touching over one lakh. About 118,001 new cases were registered in the last 24 hours, according to government data.
The total number of active cases for coronavirus infection in India presently remains at about 2.8 million.
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