As many as 10 Air India flights were delayed since morning on Friday after senior commanders called in sick and went slow on work to protest against an order removing them from the category of “workmen”. The order, issued on Thursday , bars commanders working with the airline from being part of any union and effectively takes away their rights to go on strikes.
The development comes a day after the government announced the appointment of a new chairman and managing director at the helm of the loss-making national carrier. The airline has 1,300 pilots, of which 650 are commanders. A senior government official informed, “A section of Air India pilots is observing a go-slow since this morning, leading to delay in flights.” A total of 10 flights were delayed— three from Mumbai, four from Delhi and three from Chennai.
Currently, employees in the ‘workmen’ category can go on a strike by giving 15-day prior notice to the management.
“We have sent doctors to houses of commanders who have reported in sick from duty. We have reached out to them and assured them that wage structure and working conditions agreed upon will not be changed unilaterally. Since afternoon there have been no more delays”, said a senior executive in Air India.
Earlier in April this year, the government set the ball rolling on a proposal to remove pilots from the ‘workmen’ category under the Industrial Disputes Act.