Air India pilot unions threaten industrial action from Dec 1 over pay cut and unmet demands
Mumbai/IBNS: Around 1,000 pilots of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) have threatened “industrial action” from December 1 if the “illegal pay cut of 55 percent” and “plethora of longstanding disinvestment issues” are not addressed within three days by Air India, media reports said.
Any industrial action will affect both domestic and international operations.
“With the resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services to/ from India from December 15th, 2021, and all airlines rolling back the COVID cut, If we do not see the issues related to an illegal pay cut of 55 percent and the plethora of longstanding disinvestment issues addressed within three days we will have no choice but to seek justice through ‘Industrial Action,’” ICPA and IPG said in a letter dated November 29 to former Air India Chairman and Managing Director and current Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal, Money Control reported.
A notice of 14 days and not three days is required for industrial action, according to experts, said the report, adding that ICPA and IPG had written a similar letter on November 17.
ICPA is the union of narrow-body pilots of Air India, who fly the airline’s Airbus A320 fleet while the IPG represents the pilots who fly the wide-body Boeing 777 and Boeing 787, which the airline uses for long-haul flights to Europe, the US, Canada and Australia.
Industrial action usually means pilots could go on work to rule (strictly go by the book on timings and rules) which could reduce the efficiency of the airline and disrupt flight operations.
Pilots who operate long-haul flights have said the decision to cut 55 percent salary is wrong, especially because they have risked their flights and flown to Covid-hit countries at the height of the pandemic.
The pilots say that Air India did not consider the risks they exposed themselves to (five pilots died during these evacuation flights) and instead went in for pay cuts in April 2020.
The pilots claim that in July 2020, their salaries were cut with retrospective effect, also covering the period when they flew the evacuation flights during the pandemic, said the report.
They operated flights to several countries, including UK and Italy, while the pandemic was spreading earlier this year.
According to the pilots, the last time they got their full salaries was March 2020.
The report said Air India did not respond immediately to queries on the effect of industrial action on flight schedules or if the pilots’ demands were being considered.