By Rohit Vaid
New Delhi/Mumbai, Jan 7 (IANS) Air India pilots’ union has decided to conduct a secret ballot amongst its members to determine whether to take the national carrier to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) or go on a strike till the time that their “legitimate dues” are cleared.
The union’s move comes as the Centre is in the final stages of issuing the Expression of Interest (EoI) for privatisation of Air India.
Union members have expressed concerns over the future of the airline, given the complexities of privatisation along with lack of information on the process.
A senior member of the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) told IANS: “We will conduct a secret ballot to determine whether to take our case to the NCLT or to go on a strike.”
“There is no credible information on our demands for job security, medical coverage post retirement, or leaving the airline without serving the notice period.”
At present, the union has 800 pilots as its members.
Some 65 pilots have already tendered their resignations and are serving the six-month notice periods which are due for completion “soon”, the ICPA official said.
The union has said that its members have never received salaries and flying allowances on time in the last 2-3 years. Currently, flying allowance constitutes 70 per cent of the pilots’ pay package.
Overall, all Air India employees, including pilots, have decided to approach the Centre with a set of demands before the privatisation process of the national carrier begins.
The recognised AI unions and other employee bodies decided to frame the memorandum containing their demands and apprehensions about the process.
The memorandum is said to contain their demands regarding provision for VRS and full medical coverage under the new management after the privatisation.
“We will be submitting a memorandum of demands within the next 10 days. We expect to meet the Civil Aviation Minister after the submission of our demands. We expect the government to honour these demands before the privatisation process begins,” a senior member from one of the AI unions told IANS.
“Some of these demands are meant to be fulfilled prior to the process begins and some after the new management takes over.”
The development assumes significance since the Centre on Tuesday finalised the draft Expression of Interest for privatisation of Air India.
According to a senior government official, the EoI inviting bids for the national carrier will be issued by the month end.
The official spoke after the ministerial panel on Air India’s disinvestment process met here on Tuesday.
After the meet, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that it was productive and a statement on the decisions taken will be issued soon.
Last week, Puri had reassured Air India’s employees that the passenger carrier will remain operational till its privatisation process is complete.
He was speaking at a meeting with Air India’s employees’ unions which was held in New Delhi last week.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])