Adding insult to injury of employees as they protest what they call “a draconian” Leave Without Pay (LWP) policy going up to five years, Air India is on a recruitment drive to hire new people.
Air India Express has put out an advertisement to hire in the finance and medical services department. The general principle is that if a company is laying off people and sending them on long leave without pay, then it does not hire fresh personnel.
In the advertisement, Air India Express has invited applications from Indian citizens (wherever domiciled) for the posts on a fixed term contract basis.
The positions in the medical services department include Chief Medical Officer and Senior Assistant, Medical.
The positions open for hiring in the Finance Department include Deputy Chief of Finance, Manager-Finance and Deputy Manager-Finance.
Interested and eligible candidates have been asked to submit their applications within 15 days of this advertisement.
This will add fuel to the fire as employees across the board from pilots to service engineers are protesting pay cuts and Leave Without Pay in Air India. The company is also on the block for privatization.
Air India has justified the cut in allowances of existing employees by citing the precarious financial position due to Covid 19.
Air India said in a tweet: “There has been no reduction in the Basic pay, DA and HRA of any category of employees. The rationalization of allowances had to be implemented on account of the difficult financial condition of the airline that were exacerbated by COVID-19.”
The pilots have questioned this claim and said that this is a devious plan to ensure a minuscule pay cut for senior AI officials. Basic Pay, HRA and DA constitutes 80 per cent of Gross Pay for senior AI officials.
“By ‘rationalizing’ the allowances only, pilots and cabin crew are hit worst as it forms 80 per cent of our gross pay. Doesn’t the difficult financial condition of the airline warrant a contribution from the management too based on their actual cost to company or just flying crew alone?” the pilots said in the letter.
Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) have accused Air India of spreading “deliberate misinformation on social media” and questioned the “duplicitous” tweets by Air India calling them “misleading”.
“Air India has recently posted some duplicitous tweets that are misleading the general public”, the pilots associations said.
“Recent decisions of Air India Board regarding rationalization of staff cost were reviewed in a meeting at @MoCA_goi this evening. The meeting reiterated that unlike other carriers which have laid off large number of their employees, no employee of Air India will be laid off,” said the Air India tweet.
To this the pilots responded in a letter to Aruna Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Corporate Affairs, Air India, “A lay off means settlement of arrears, gratuity, PF and retrenchment compensation by law. Management is trying to dodge this by introducing Compulsory Leave without Pay for up to 5 years to send employees on exile.”
Aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs) of Air India have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, complaining that the 40 per cent pay cut
has pushed them to the brink with the “overload of EMIs, school fees and bills”.
Protesting the pay cuts in the national carrier, the All India Aircraft Engineers Association and the Air India Aircraft Engineers Association, in the letter to the Prime Minister, said: “A pseudo plan has been hatched by the callous top management resulting in a discriminatory and disproportionate massive pay cut exclusively for us in contrast to a miniscule cut for the higher officials.”
“Increasing the pay cut to 40 per cent from April in our cadre has pushed us to the edge of subsistence with an overload of EMIs, schools fees and bills,” the Air India maintenance engineers said.
They added that these allowances have been specifically targeted by the management to adversely hurt a particular section of employees, namely the AMEs.
The engineers added that contrary to belief, the amount of mandatory maintenance work on the aircraft remained undiminished during the pandemic, irrespective of aircraft utilisation, and rather increased due to the requirement of periodic storage examination and preservation in “Flight Ready” condition.
“We are forced to withdraw money from our provident fund for our survival as our existing financial commitments towards basic needs have not even reduced slightly,” they added.
“It is tragic that engineers in the middle of their career, with all the liabilities pending towards family and wards, are forced to withdraw money from the provident funds to meet daily needs while the retired executives, having already secured their future, are enjoying the freebies despite dismal performance in service,” the associations
The engineers said that if the pay cut is inevitable, then it should be applied equally and ethically to all sections of employees.