Air India unions threaten strike from April 2

Salaries unpaid,unions seek PM's intervention; govt says Rs 10 crore daily loss to AI.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: March 28, 2012 3:19:25 pm

Unable to bear the “agony” caused by continued non-payment of their dues,eight Air India unions on Wednesday sought immediate intervention of the Prime Minister to resolve the situation failing which they threatened to proceed on strike from April 2.

“We will no longer be able to bear this agony which has been thrust upon us for no fault of ours. Therefore,we reiterate that if the management continues to withhold our legitimate wages,we will not be able to discharge our duties from April 2. We appeal to you for your kind and urgent intervention to resolve the situation,” the unions said in a joint memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The decision to go ahead with their proposed strike came after the unions failed to secure any “firm proposal” from the debt-ridden national carrier for clearing their dues at a meeting with the management here today,third such engagement in a week.

The memorandum signed by leaders of eight of the 13 registered unions of the airline,said,“They have been constrained to implement ‘No pay no work’ policy from April 2,as today also the management failed to provide any firm proposal for payment of their outstanding wages.”

After their meeting on last Thursday,the management had given a written commitment for a staggered payment of their dues beginning March 29 through May 25 and most,barring the pilots who demanded complete payment before April 1,were agreeable to it.

While seeking PM’s intervention,the memorandum said,“As you are aware,a majority of AI employees have expressed their inability to work on/from April 2 due to non-payment of their legitimate wages for several months. A significant number of employees come from humble backgrounds and modest means.

“While some have availed of education loans,others have financial commitments towards their families. Due to non-payment of our wages for an extended time period,we are unable meet their financial responsibilities,” the union leaders said.

The memo has been signed by representatives of the Indian Pilots Guild,Air India Officers Association,Air India Engineers Association,Air India Employees Union,Air India Cabin Crew Association,Air India Aircraft Engineers Association,All-India Service Engineers Association,and Air Corporation Employees Union.

However,a window for reconciliation has been kept open with the unions agreeing to have a meeting with Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan in New Delhi tomorrow to iron out the issues.

“The office of the CMD has now requested for a meeting with our representatives tomorrow morning in New Delhi. The civil aviation secretary is also likely to meet us tomorrow,” the unions said.

Air India,which is sitting on a mountain of Rs 67,000 crore debt and has reported a loss of close to Rs 6,900 crore this fiscal,has 33,000 employees represented by 13 registered unions who are not getting their salaries and incentives since last October.

The government has said the national carrier was making operational losses of Rs 10 crore every day.

“The total loss of Air India every day on its operations is approximately Rs 10 crore,” Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told the Lok Sabha in reply to a query.

He said Air India had to collect approximately Rs 574.67 crore from various central ministries as on March 15,2012.

“During the last three years,Air India has received Rs 114.35 crore from the Ministry of Defence,Rs 212 crores from Prime Minister’s Office and Rs 112.98 crore from Ministry of External Affairs,” Singh said.

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