National carrier, Air India, on July 14 circulated a scheme of leave without pay (LWP). Under the scheme, an employee of the organisation can be sent on compulsory leave without pay for a period of six months to two years, further extendable up to five years. The India Pilots Guild (IPG) has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the arbitrary and illegal nature of the scheme.
The IPG has claimed that by moving forward this scheme, it grants disproportionate powers to the chairman and managing director to send any employee on LWP. It further adds that such a move is a direct attack on the right to life and livelihood. Considering the state of the job market, it would be difficult for employees to find another job and sustain themselves.
There is no procedure for hearing or review and during the period of leave, no pay, allowances, statutory benefits or career progression would be available for the employees. Workers will have to clear all dues and vacate company-provided accommodation or pay monthly rent according to market rates. In addition, they will not be able to take up any government job or position in any other airline without the permission of Air India.
The airline has constantly come under the scrutiny for making drastic moves against its employees. Most recently in an internal order released on July 21, the airline reduced the monthly salaries of staff earning more than Rs. 25,000 by 50 per cent. In another instance, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and the IPG in a joint letter to CMD Rajiv Bansal warned against any unilateral changes in the wage structure of pilots after the organisation proposed a 60 per cent wage cut in the salaries of pilots.