Fearing for their jobs, the over a dozen employees and officers unions of Air India Monday came out strongly against the government’s second bid to sell the financially-crippled national carrier, union sources said after a meeting with the management.
Acting quickly on the budget announcement, Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani had called on Friday itself called a meeting of all the 3 unions of the airline Monday to discuss the privatisation plan.
Showing its keenness to get out of the aviation business, which for many decades have been a big drain on public money, the budget for FY20 has set aside just a paltry Rs 1 lakh.
Media reports Monday said, the government has set an October deadline to complete the process.
“The forum of 13 unions have decided to oppose the privatisation move,” a union functionary told PTI over the phone from New Delhi after the meeting with the management.
During the meeting, which lasted for about 2 hrs, various union representatives told the management that they are ready to do anything to turnaround the carrier but will not “accept” privatisation at any cost, the source said.
The Modi government in its first term had also tried to exit from the airline business but failed to get a buyer, forcing it to defer the plans.
Presenting the budget, Sitharaman had said, “in view of the current macroeconomic parameters, the government would not only re-initiate the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India but would also offer more central enterprises for strategic participation by the private sector.”
The 13 AI unions are Air Corporation Employees Union, Air India Employees Union, Indian Airlines Technicians Association, All-India Aircraft Engineers Association, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Indian Pilots Guild, Air India Aircraft Engineers Association, Air India Cabin Crew Association, Air India Engineers Association, Aviation Industry Employees Guild, All-India Service Engineers Association and United Air India Officers Association.
The AI unions have consistently been opposing any bid to sell the Maharaja claiming that privatization is not a remedy pointing to the way Kingfisher and Jet Airways went belly up.
As many as six airlines, all private, including Jet Airways, Air Pegasus, Air Odisha and Air Costa, have shut shops between 2014 and April 2019 for various reasons.