The Air India Employee Union (AIEU) is seeking a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri, to request an extension of the medical scheme, leave encashment, and provident fund benefits as Air India may be privatized. They are also protesting against an ‘unfair pay cut’ and asking pilots to not take on extra duties.
In a letter to Puri, AIEU addressed the need for the three existing benefits. The present medical scheme is serving retired as well as the serving Air India employees. The provident fund has two separate trust funds — Air India and Indian Airlines, both protected by the 1925 PF Trust Act. As for the leave encashment, most employees who spend their lifetime serving the airline, benefit from these schemes upon retirement. The AIEU expressed fears about the discontinuation of these benefits upon the privatization of Air India. The Union is hoping that post a personal audience with the civil aviation minister, these benefits will be extended at least till March 31, 2021.
The Union further alleged negligence on the part of the senior management even as the employees ensured smooth flight operations during the pandemic. Pilot duty and rest hours are dictated by regulations and with the AIEU directive – pilots can refuse to fly beyond their duty time in the face of a possible weather disruption or technical delay. This will cause more delays for the airlines as it takes time to find replacement pilots.