FEARING loss of jobs amid moves to privatise the national carrier, members of the Air India Employees Union (AIEU) met Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari Thursday to demand job security and welfare measures for employees. The AIEU demanded that interests of around 21,000 employees of the airline be protected after disinvestment.
AIEU represents the permanent staff of the airline in addition to the airline’s subsidiaries that include Air India Engineering Services Limited (AIESL) and Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL), the engineering and ground handling services for the carrier respectively. Gadkari,who is also a member of the group of ministers finalising the process for the airline’s privatisation, had previously opined against selling the carrier’s profit-making subsidiaries as the government had invested heavily in them and they had started generating revenue.
“In the meeting on Friday, AIEU requested Nitin Gadkari to protect job security and welfare facilities of all employees of AI, AIATSL and AIESL. Gadkari assured AIEU to protect the interest of all employees in case of privatisation,” said Parag Ajgaonkar, president of the AIEU. He added, “In case of privatisation, AIEU is concerned of the fate of its employees and demands job security, welfare facilities such as medical, provident fund, pension trust, staff transport and canteen, which we want retained during service and after retirement of employees.”
The government is considering selling the national carrier’s subsidiaries to repay a portion of the company’s debt. The AIEU has since feared retrenchment of jobs once a private agency looks into the affairs of the airline.
“AIEU also demands the wage agreement pending January 1, 2007, and 25 per cent of public life insurance arrears pending since July, 2012, HRA and CC arrears pending since January 1,1997 and other arrears. We would like to request the Indian government to waive debts of the airline and give opportunities to the Chairman and Managing Director of AI to keep the flag of the national carrier flying,” the statement added.
Earlier this month, the largest pilots’ union of Air India committed its support for privatisation, provided the government takes steps to clear pending salaries.