The Bombay High Court on Friday asked Air India and its employees’ unions to consider exploring alternate remedy for settling their dispute wherein the former has issued eviction notices to its over 1,600 employees.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justice MS Karnik, is hearing three petitions filed by the employees’ unions -- the Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG), Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) and All India Service Engineers Association (AISEA) -- challenging the eviction notices issued to them asking them to vacate their official quarters at Kalina in suburban Mumbai.
During the hearing on Friday, CJ Datta suggested that the parties should try to settle the dispute through alternate remedy.
To this, counsels for the employees unions – Ashok Shetty and Mihir Desai – said that they had first approached the Industrial Tribunal and invoked conciliation in September 2021.
A conciliation officer was appointed to hear the parties and submit a report. The officer gave the hearing and pending his report, Air India issued eviction notices to the employees. The conciliation proceedings are not considered concluded till the time the conciliation officer submits his report, said Shetty.
Here, despite the fact that the report is pending from the conciliation officer, the airline issued eviction notices hence the employees were constrained to approach the high court, added Shetty.
However, once again on court’s suggestion, the employees’ unions said that they are open to explore alternate remedy provided Air India gives assurance that, pending the conciliation proceedings, it will not take coercive action – imposing penalty of Rs 15 lakh, charging double the rent amount and initiation of departmental inquiry.
The judges have asked the counsels for the Union of India and Air India to take instructions on the same and inform the court by August 18.
Earlier, Air India had informed the HC on July 26 that they would not initiate any action against its employees to whom they have served eviction notice. The first batch of notices said that the employees have to vacate their premises by July 27.