Debt-ridden Air India, which has not paid salaries to its employees for the month of July, on Friday said it is making “all efforts” to disburse them by the next week. The salaries have been delayed due to the reasons beyond the airline’s control, it said in a communication to its staff.
This is the fifth consecutive month that the national carrier has failed to pay salaries to its employees on time. Generally, the airline disburses salaries by the 30th or the 31st of every month. There were delay in payments in March, April, May and June as well.
“We regret to inform the delay in payment of salaries for the month of July due to circumstances beyond the control of the management,” Air India general manager for human resources said in the notice to staff, adding, “However, all efforts are being made to make the payments by next week.”
Air India has more than 11,000 permanent staff.
The national carrier, which is facing acute financial crunch, is set to get an additional funding of Rs 980 crore from the government.
On July 26, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha told the Lok Sabha that there was a short delay in the payment of salaries for May and that the same was paid subsequently.
“Salaries have been paid to all employees, including the salary for the month of June, which was paid on July 2,” the minister had said.
At the end of March 2017, the national carrier had a debt burden of more than Rs 48,000 crore.
Under its turnaround plan and financial restructuring plan approved by the government in April 2012, Air India is to receive a budgetary support of Rs 30,231 crore over a 10-year period ending March 2021.
“Air India has received an equity infusion of Rs 27,195.21 crore till date,” Sinha told the Lok Sabha last month.
In the current fiscal year, the state-owned airline has received an equity infusion of Rs 650 crore till June.
Meanwhile, two of its unions – Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and Indian Aircraft Technicians Association (IATA) – today wrote to the airline chairman and managing director, Pradeep Singh Kharola, raising the issue of salary delay, saying that it does not augurs well for the organisation.
“It is disheartening to note that the salary has yet again been delayed for the fifth consecutive month. Financial uncertainty is a source of frustration, anxiety and stress which results in undue fatigue, adversely impacting flight safety and the overall performance levels of employees,” the ICPA said in its letter.
It alleged that the crisis which the airline is facing has been attributed to employees, market conditions and government policies, among others, while, “The genesis of these problems are poor management and poor functioning of the airline.”
It further said that “until salaries and all emoluments are paid on time, the ICPA has decided to operate flights under protest due to harassment on account of unpaid dues and serious concerns of flight safety”.
In its letter, the IATA said that the delay in wages for the past few months has been creating “unrest” among the employees, adding, “We request you (Kharola) to take immediate steps to address employees concerns.”