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Air India unions slam company's decisions on leave without pay, salary cuts

Air India Ltd's board of directors have approved a leave without pay scheme for a section of its permanent employees for a period of six months to two years, which is extendable to up to five years. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/MintPremium
Air India Ltd's board of directors have approved a leave without pay scheme for a section of its permanent employees for a period of six months to two years, which is extendable to up to five years. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

The unions criticized the wage restructuring measures carried out by the airline to cut costs stating that such negotiations between the management and staff were 'not harmonious' and would not be in the interest of the national carrier if carried out in a unilateral manner

Unions representing Air India Ltd have slammed the national carrier’s cost-cutting plans, which include salary cuts and leave without pay (LWP) for a section of the workforce.

The unions, in separate letters to Air India chairman and MD Rajiv Bansal, said the decisions were taken unilaterally without consulting them.

Criticizing the plans to restructure wages, Air India’s pilots’ union, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), said negotiations between the management and staff were “not harmonious" and would not be in the interest of the airline if carried out in an unilateral manner.

In a 20 July letter addressed to Bansal, ICPA said it supports the austerity measures but “only if such a restructuring is done in true spirit of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution".

“The proposal was verbally explained to us without any written true copy. However, the said proposal is not acceptable to us as it is against the fundamental right, right to equality, guaranteed to us by the Constitution," it said. “Flying allowance and flying-related allowances constitute 70% of our wages. These allowances remain unpaid since April. Furthermore, all wages are being paid with constant delays," according to the letter, a copy of which was seen by Mint.

AI’s board had earlier approved a LWP scheme for a section of its permanent employees for six months to two years, which is extendable up to five years, in a bid to cut costs. Bansal said recently that the management is also negotiating salary cuts with the staff to lower costs.

Other AI unions have also written to Bansal protesting against the LWP scheme.

In a joint letter dated 20 July, four unions comprising Aviation Industry Employees Guild, All India Service Engineers Association and All India Aircraft Engineers Association, said notices issued to the staff for LWP were done without any talks. “While the union welcomes the proposal to grant LWP on a voluntary basis, as it was formulated earlier pursuant to the discussions with the union, it is not agreeable to the scheme unilaterally and arbitrarily floated in terms of the said staff notice as some of the provisions are prejudicial to employees’ interest, and need to be modified," it said.

“The union, however, is strongly opposed to Clause B of the said staff notice in terms of which the CMD of Air lndia can pass an order requiring an employee to go on leave for six months (extendable up to five years) or for a period of two years (extendable up to five years) compulsorily," it added.

A copy of the letter has been reviewed by Mint.

When contacted, an Air India spokesperson refused to comment.

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