Air India pilots’ unions reject proposed pay structure, warn of industrial unrest

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) In a major development, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) of Air India have rejected the new pay structure proposed by the airline.
The primary bone of contention is the reduction in flying allowance from 70 hours to 40 hours every month under the new structure, which the pilots believe is unfair.
The two unions have warned of possible ‘industrial unrest’ if the management goes ahead with the new terms without their consent. While Air India has stated that it will “continue to engage with the remainder of its staff”, the airline has taken a tough stance on the issue, saying that there are “no recognised unions in Air India”.
This is the first wage revision offered by the Tata group-owned Air India since its takeover last year, and it will affect all 3,000 pilots across its four airlines – Air India, Air India Express, Air Asia India, and Vistara.
The pilots’ unions have instructed their members to reject the new employment conditions and wage structure offered by the management.
An agreement has been put in place for the employees to sign by April 25, but the two unions have stated that they will contest the terms and conditions, with their pilots refusing to sign the revised employment and compensation terms.
The two unions have warned of potential industrial unrest if the company takes any coercive or victimising action against their members.
In a joint statement, the unions stated that the company reiterated that “all previous understandings, representations and agreements of whatever nature that have been entered into with us are null & void and that the company further has the right to change any terms and conditions”.
“The term cost to the company for an assumed flying of 70 hrs is deliberately misleading and creates an impression of a generous compensation and accompanying benefits package. The actual guaranteed money being offered is only for 40 hrs. Effectively, any time a pilot is on leave or is unavailable due to recurrent training requirements or document/licence renewals, not to mention any sick leave, there is an automatic pay cut involved,” the statement read.
“The so-called rationalisations of allowances is not in line with any industry practices as projected by HR. Further, blanket consent is sought for any leave or insurance policy that the company may come up with & which is subject to amendment or outright withdrawal.
“Suffice it to say that this is not an all-inclusive list but merely a selection of some of the most outlandish and labour-hostile provisions that we have come across to date. This is dishonourable and how the management is trying to force it down the employees’ throats is outright unethical,” it added.
“Nor has the blatant attack on our rights as workmen to bargain collectively or seek legal redressal for any injustice or victimisation gone unnoticed. Where is the company requirement all of a sudden to forcibly promote almost all the permanent workmen of the union to the so-called Senior Commander management cadre? It is clear from all this that there is a concerted effort to gut the unions and isolate pilots into individual boxes where they can be exploited and victimised at will by the HR department,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Air India’s spokesperson has defended the new compensation structure, which includes parity among different groups, recognition of managerial and supervisory roles for experienced pilots, and individual contracts sent to pilots and cabin crew for necessary paperwork.
“The managerial and supervisory role played by the experienced pilots is also being recognised in the form of designating them as Senior Commander as also offering them a special monthly allowance. The contracts reflecting these enhancements were individually sent to the pilots and cabin crew for necessary paperwork,” said the spokesperson.
The spokesperson also claimed that a large number of pilots and cabin crew have already accepted the new contracts, and the salary improvements and advancement opportunities they enable.
“The airline will continue to engage with the remainder of its staff through this process as currently there is no recognised union in Air India,” the spokesperson said.

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