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300 IA contract employees on strike,demand pay hike

Several international passenger and cargo flights were delayed on Monday as over 300 security assistants,employed on contractual basis by Indian Airlines,went on strike at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
June 2, 2009 12:29:51 am

Several international passenger and cargo flights were delayed on Monday as over 300 security assistants,employed on contractual basis by Indian Airlines,went on strike at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

While questioning the very existence of the company they have signed a contract with — Indian Airlines Limited Airport Services Limited (IAL-ASL) — the on-strike employees allege that there has been no revision in their pay of Rs 5,500 for the last five years,no provision for provident fund and no medical facilities or any claims to injury or death while on duty.

“We have no identity cards issued despite working at the airport for five years now. Several international airlines refuse to allow us (to conduct) the safety procedures in the absence of valid identity cards,” said Sunil Kumar,one of the protesters.

The employees,who have been wearing black ribbons since May 20 as a mark of protest,allege they have been issued security passes by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) for entry into the airport,which terms them as employees of Air India.

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“We don’t even know who we are employed with. Many of our men were injured while on duty,but none of them was given any medical assistance. Salaries are deducted for any leave we need to take despite presenting medical reasons and all the requisite certificates,” said Jeet Singh,president of the IA-ASL Employees Union.

On the other hand,taking a tough stand on the matter,Indian Airlines terminated the services of 21 contractual security and commercial workers who abstained from duty today. “21 workers,17 posted at New Delhi’s IGI Airport and four at Amritsar Airport,have been suspended for abstaining from work,” an Indian Airlines spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also added that there was little the company could do,as the protesting employees were hired on contract. “Security is a sensitive issue and the protesters are only making a bad show of their integrity. These people are really not required. We have only been compassionate towards them by absorbing them for doing other back-office work.”

While the Indian Airlines’ management claims the strike has had no impact on flight movement,air services were affected as X-ray,baggage clearing,passenger escorts,and security to aviation catering services for several international airlines were managed by the back-office staff in the absence of the security assistants.

Reports also said Virgin Atlantic has cancelled its flights from India for the next three days to avoid security compromise.

Commenting on the strike,an Indian Airlines spokesperson said the protesting employees have ‘no value’ for the airline in terms of the impact on work. “They are contractual employees. They were hired for a short term and trained for the purpose of baggage screening at the airport,” an IA spokesperson said.

The protesters,however,claim they were assured a salary of Rs 9,030 soon after the initial two-month security training by BCAS. The appointment letter,a copy of which is with Newsline,clearly states that the employee will receive a consolidated remuneration of Rs 5,500 during the training period,and will be eligible for a fixed total salary of Rs 9,030 after completion of the training.

“So many of us have not been given the certificates,even after 3 years of completion of the training,several others have not been called for the training. Apart from a handful of us,we are (all) working on a salary of Rs 5,500 for the last five years,” said Pramod Kumar,general secretary of the employees union.

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