Indian airlines have not fared well amid the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns. Even now, months later, international flights remain restricted, and only a limited number of people are opting to fly domestically. Domestic carrier IndiGo recently announced 10% layoffs, while Air India has been mulling a leave without pay scheme.
But while Air India on Thursday stressed that nobody was getting fired, many remain concerned. Here's all you need to know about the topic summed up in 9 points, in a timeline of sorts.
1. It began earlier in July with Air India stating in an official order that it had started the process of identifying employees, based on various factors such as efficiency, health and redundancy. They would be sent on compulsory leave without pay (LWP) for up to five years. This was on July 14.
2. In the meantime, offices continued work in full swing. Air India said on July 16 that all its offices would function in full strength from July 20 and there will be no separate roster for functioning under COVID-19 situation.
3. While many have protested the plan, with many Opposition leaders slamming the government over the same, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had justified th cost-cutting measure, stating that equity infusion of Rs 500-600 crore every year is not sustainable.
4. Also on July 16, two leading pilot unions of the airline hit out at Air India, noting that the company had proposed a 60 per cent salary cut for pilots amid the coronavirus pandemic which has infected 55 of its cockpit crew members. Many have also noted that Air India pilots had undertaken many a repatriation flight amid the outbreak. In a letter, the AI Pilots Association said that it would seek an appointment with the Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri and return all the letters of appreciation issued to the pilots by the ministry for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. On July 17, at least 250 casual workers of Air India approached the Bombay High Court seeking direction to the government-run airline to provide them work as the coronavirus-induced lockdown has rendered them jobless and deprived them of wages.
6. On July 20, The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) wrote to Air India CMD stating that "any unilateral change by AI from agreed-upon wage settlement would be illegal and would not be in the interest of the national carrier". It was not a negotiation, but the diktat of MoCA which was conveyed to us, the ICPA said.
7. On July 22, Air India announced up to 50% reduction in monthly allowances of its employees, who have a gross monthly salary of more than Rs 25,000.
8. On July 23 Air India said that "no employee of Air India will be laid off". Taking to Twitter the organisation wrote, "Recent decisions of the Air India Board regarding rationalization of staff cost were reviewed in a meeting at the Civil Aviation Ministry this evening." In a series of tweets the carrier said that there has been no reduction in the basic pay, DA and HRA of any category of employees. The leave without pay scheme however remains.
9. "The flying crew will be paid as per the actual number of hours flown. As domestic and international operations expand to reach pre-COVID levels and the financial position of Air India improves, the rationalization of allowances will be reviewed," the company added in its July 23 tweets.
(With inputs from agencies)
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