The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) in a letter to the chairman and managing director of Air India, Rajiv Bansal, stated that any unilateral change in the wages of Air India employees, apart from the agreed upon settlement, will be considered illegal. The Association has further warned that such a move will not be in the interest of the national carrier and the
repercussions can be unprecedented.
On July 16, a joint letter to Bansal by the ICPA and the India Pilot’s Guild (IPG) stated that the airline had proposed a 60 per cent wage cut for pilots amidst the pandemic, while the top management settled on a 3.5 per cent cut of its own gross salary. The letter also revealed that around 55 members of the cockpit crew have been infected by the coronavirus.
Citing Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, ICPA challenged the management to refrain from restructuring salaries without serving a notice to the unions beforehand. In ICPA vs Air India Limited on January 27, 2014, the Bombay High Court held that a notice should be served to the petitioner unions regarding any change in the working conditions from the prescribed format. Moreover, while the order of the Bombay HC was challenged before the Supreme Court, the apex court has not issued any decision in favour of the management, which means that the airline is bound to continue observing Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act.
The ICPA has further mentioned that while the unions support the necessary measures needed to be taken by the airline to survive the pandemic, they should be in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitution.