Pilots’ bodies at Air India allege ‘rapid’, ‘regressive’ changes in service conditions

Pilots’ bodies at Air India allege ‘rapid’, ‘regressive’ changes in service conditions

(PTI): Pilots’ bodies at Tata Group-owned Air India have alleged the airline management of making unilaterally “rapid” and “regressive” changes in the service conditions of pilots.

In a letter to Air India Chief Human Resources Officer on Tuesday, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) also stated that “all unilateral violations of their rights and service agreements are creating industrial unrest and shattering employee confidence in the current management”.

The communication comes amid Air India reducing drastically the annual limit of privilege leave accumulation to 60 days from 300 days earlier, as per a source.

IPG represents the wide-body aircraft pilots at the airline while ICPA represents pilots who operate the narrow-body fleet of Air India.

“To help the company, the unions have supported you in good faith for over a year. But still, we are being fed the same non-committal, bidding-for-time excuses while rapid and regressive changes are being introduced unilaterally in our service/ working conditions through organisational announcements and policies,” the two unions stated in a joint letter.

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“No change can be made to our existing bilaterally agreed service conditions without issuing a notice u/s—9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, and following the procedure specified there under,” the letter read.

Air India declined to comment on the matter.

Tata Group took control of Air India in January last year.

The pilots’ unions say all this is happening when they have engaged with the management several times in promoting a positive working environment and ensuring “fair working conditions” for all pilots.

Alleging that the company cherry picked the fluffy and and non-consequential questions during a recent virtual interaction, the letter said, “we are still waiting for answers to all the unanswered questions posted in the chat, as promised by the management during the session.

On March 22, an “organisational announcement was emailed to individual pilots announcing a forcible capping of privilege leave accumulation to 60 days as well as liquidation of any additional leave over and above,” the pilots stated in the letter.

Air India in the email communication said it was reviewing the company’s leave policy comprehensively to align it with the prevailing market practices.

“As part of that process, privilege leave limit and encashment are being revised,” it said.

The pilots’ “leave quota, accumulation and encashment cannot be unilaterally” changed by the management in the name of an “organisational announcement” or “Policy” with such nonchalance, the unions said.

According to the letter, the pilots have appealed to the airline management on ethical grounds to follow the letter and spirit of the law and engage unions actively as is being done in other Tata companies but to no avail.

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