The employees’ and officers’ unions of Air India expressed their displeasure at the Government’s attempt to sell the cash-strapped national airline.
Ashwani Lohani, chairman, Air India, had discussed the privatisation plan with the 13 unions recently, conveying the intention to exit the aviation business altogether, since it has been incurring losses.
While the Government has set October as the deadline to complete the process of privatisation, the unions have made up their minds to oppose the same. The 13 unions— Air Corporation Employees Union, Air India Employees Union, Indian Airlines Technicians Association, All-India Aircraft Engineers Association, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Indian Pilots Guild, Air India Aircraft Engineers Association, Air India Cabin Crew Association, Air India Engineers Association, Aviation Industry Employees Guild, All-India Service Engineers Association and United Air India Officers Association — have already conveyed to the management that they are willing to do anything required to revive the airline but will never support the privatisation move.
The unions believe that privatisation is not the remedy. They feel that considering the number of people whose livelihoods depend on the airline, it makes more sense to revive the airline by writing off its Rs 60,000 crore debt. However, the chairman admitted that things had gone out of their hands.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had recently stated in her Budget speech that the Government will continue to focus on the strategic disinvestment of certain central public-sector enterprises (CPSEs). In her own words, “In view of the current macro-economic parameters, the Government would not only re-initiate the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India, but would offer more CPSEs for strategic participation by the private sector.”