Unsure of leave encashment, Air India staff proposes to collectively take VRS

The national carrier’s 11,000 strong workforce has also been seeking coverage under CGHS and housing facilities post privatisation.

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The employees of Air India, which is all set to get privatised, are afraid that once the airline is taken over by a private organisation, they will be unable to encash their leaves. In such a scenario, they feel it is better to opt for a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), especially for employees who have two to three years of service left.

Among other things, the employees have also been demanding that the medical facilities be continued for them even after privatisation, and are seeking coverage under the central government health scheme (CGHS).

Since the management has not offered any clarity with regard to leave encashment, if Air India is sold to a private bidder, many employees have proposed opting for voluntary retirement (VRS) en masse. The option is being discussed by the union members and a decision will be taken after obtaining clarifications from the management on various issues.

According to the union members, the employees are entitled to encashment of 300 days’ leave. And the management should take steps to protect the benefits of the staff. If an employee with an annual salary of Rs 5 lakh is approaching retirement in a year’s time, the VRS option makes more sense if she/he cannot encash leaves.

The employees feel that the decision makers are not really bothered about protecting their rights because they themselves are enjoying pensions as well as health and housing benefits.

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