Air India pilot unions in deadlock with Government on wage cuts

The pilot unions seek an audience with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and request his intervention

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Air India pilot unions — Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) IPG and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) sought the Civil Aviation Ministry’s intervention on the recent wage cut issue and also requested for an “urgent” meeting with the Minister, for redressal of several other grievances faced by them.

While IPG represents employees who operate wide-body aircraft of Air India, ICPA represents the pilots flying Air India’s narrow-body aircraft.

In a joint letter to the civil aviation minister, the unions alleged that in their meetings with the minster, in September, he had given an assurance to look into their grievances. While other airlines seem to be rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots kept increasing from October. Further, the letter went on to say, the move was entirely removed from market reality and unfair to the pilots of Air India.

Air India and its two subsidiary airlines, Air India Express and Alliance Air, continue to get reduced wages, that is, up to 70 per cent lesser than their normal wages. Even for the higher strata employees in the government, there is a clear recognition of reasonable time-bound compensations given to them. By ‘higher strata employees’, the letter hinted at the parliamentarians who continue to receive a reduced salary by 30 per cent for a period of one year.

The letter also stated many grievances, which included pilots who test positive for the virus needing to undergo quarantine and hospitalisation for COVID-19. Apparently the several medical checks and the restriction on flying reflects in their wage cuts, and the entire process to return to flying takes more than a month! The unions rightly feel that the wage cuts are an “occupational hazard” which the pilots have no control over and shouldn’t have to pay for the same.

The Aviation Ministry is yet to respond to the letter and address the grievances.

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