Facing all round criticism for the persisting crisis in Air India,the government on Friday announced a slew of measures including bringing parity in pay scales of Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines staff and a uniform working hours policy while scrapping productivity-linked incentive.
The decisions were based on the recommendations of the Justice D M Dharmadhikari Committee which went into the HR integration issues of the two carriers which were merged in 2007.
The salient features in the report including level mapping of employees,unified pay scales and common seniority,were outlined by Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.
The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG),which is spearheading the 26-day-old pilots’ strike,rejected the report,saying it was biased in favour of the erstwhile IA employees.
Maintaining that integration of employees was absolutely necessary for Air India to survive and merger to succeed,Singh said,The government is giving Rs 30,000 crore to the airline. One thing is clear. The government will not give any more public money to Air India.
The minister stuck to his earlier position on the pilots agitation,saying their demands relating to career progression could be considered only after they returned to work.
Announcing a roadmap for starting implementing the recommendations,he said the carrier would save Rs 250 crore in the wage bill in the first year.
The government has been criticised by parliamentary panels and the Comptroller and Auditor General for not resolving the HR integration issues since the two airlines were merged in 2007.
While there would be parity in pay scales and uniform working conditions for staffers as per the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) norms,the pay and allowances for pilots,engineers,cabin crew and technicians would be determined on the basis of industry practices.
Since these issues are not dealt with by DPE guidelines,the Union Cabinet’s approval is required, Singh said.
A four-member Implementation-cum-Anomaly Committee has been set up to implement various recommendations on pay fixation,level-mapping of all employees and their promotional avenues. It would seek the views of all sections of employees and complete its task within the next 45 days.
We will be patient and persuasive in talking to the employees. They will realise their future depends on the future of Air India, Singh said.
The crucial Productivity-Linked Incentive (PLI) in its present form will be abolished,the minister said,adding that it would be subsumed in determination of basic pay to the extent admissible in the DPE guidelines.
In an issue that could irk the striking pilots,Singh said there would be cross-utilisation of all resources,including manpower and capacity building with fair and equitable opportunity given to everyone,including cross-training at various levels.
The IPG,which represents erstwhile AI pilots,are protesting the training given to their colleagues from former IA on long-haul wide-body planes like Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 777s,which they say was their sole prerogative and helped them attaining seniority.
Cross-training in the merged entity would imply that the pilots and engineers of erstwhile IA would be trained on AI aircraft and vice versa. These employees would be given seniority based on wide and narrow-body planes for which they are trained and licensed,Singh said.
The IPG said the report was tailor-made to suit the interests of the employees of erstwhile IA. It reinforces the bias and prejudice that the management harbours against the employees of erstwhile AI vis-a-vis erstwhile IA.
After implementation of this report,there would be unified cadre at every level,along with a uniform policy regarding working hours,passage facility and others like accommodation,transportation,canteen and uniforms. The total employee strength of Air India is about 27,000.