- Rajiv Bansal, Ministry of Civil Aviation, receives a joint letter from Air India Unions
- Concerns arise over employee benefits, leaves, allowances, accommodation and arrear clearance
In view of the recent handover of Air India to the Tata group, several Unions of the Air India airlines voiced their concerns through a joint letter to Rajiv Bansal, secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation. The issues penned down in the letter primarily consisted of employee grievances that needed prompt addressal.
The letter to the Ministry necessitates settlement of the following disputes prior to the handover to Tatas. These are:
- Clarification on Optional Leave Encashment: The Unions indicated at the leave encashment promise that was made to them on September 1st this year, by the Minister and the Secretary of Civil aviation Ministry. With regards to this, the Unions urge that employees who wish to encash their leaves shall be permitted to start off with fresh leave accounts and the ones who don’t, can get their accounts credited with the leave balance.
- Request for Continued Accommodation: The Unions also asked for a one year approval for continual accommodation of Air India employees in company flats until monetisation or for at least a year considering Tata’s one year employment guarantee to all staff members.
Letters issued by the ministries stringently instructed all employees to either sign undertakings in 15 days or pay penalties worth 15 lakhs.
“We urge you to intercede on behalf of the Air Indians who reside in these colonies to allow them to reside in them for a reasonable period of at least a year,” the Union added.
- Lack of Clarity on Medical Benefits: The letter also expressed concerns over the lack of clarity on the medical benefits that would be extended to the currently serving and retired employees. Transparency pertaining to OPD, hospitalisation and disbursal of medicines was also obligated.
- Post-retirement benefits: The Unions also stressed upon granting post-retirement benefits of Medical and Passage. Citing the meeting of September 1st, the Unions claimed to have raised the issue earlier as well. The letter revealed that an estimated 2400 permanent employees of the organisation have been excluded from the retirement scheme, as they do not fulfil the 20-year clause. The Unions demand “all permanent employees should be entitled to these benefits’’
- Restored pre-covid allowances: During covid last year, the allowances of all employees had been slashed down. With rapid normalcy within the aviation industry and routine passenger traffic alike pre-covid levels, the Unions demand the reinstatement of pre-covid emoluments.
- Arrear clearance: The letter read that the arrear issue had remained undecided and unanswered since time immemorial. They demanded payment of all arrears with full interest and a statement of the promised arrears to be issued at the earliest.
Several employees conveyed their happiness on Tata’s acquisition of the national carrier. An announcement by the Centre disclosed Tata Sons’ winning bid of 18000 crores against the reserve price of 12,906 set by it.
A committee member of the Indian Pilots’ Guild, the Boeing pilots’ union of Air India, articulated joy in working with the Tata group and the eventual build-up of a mutually beneficial professional relationship.
Praveen Keerthi, General Secretary of, Indian National Commercial Pilots Association, mentioned that the Tata Group is widely known for taking good care of its employees. The employees of Vistara, even during the COVID-19 induced pandemic, were better looked after than Air Indians. “We have great hopes from the new employer and are excited and apprehensive at the same time,” she added.