Madras HC restrains Centre and Air India from proceeding with disinvestment

Over 5,000 employees of Air India, as part of the petitioner body, Air Corporation Employees Union, had sought that the disinvestment process be stopped till the rights of the employees were legally protected.

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Air Corporation Employees Union recently moved the Madras High Court with a request to stop Air India and the Centre from proceeding with the disinvestment of the carrier, without first taking definitive measures to protect the rights of the staff.

The Madras High Court (HC) has granted interim relief to the Air India staff, by restraining the Ministry from evicting members of the petitioner union, from their current accommodations provided by Air India.

Further, the authorities will have to continue to provide the medical benefits and facilities presently being extended to the members and their families under the Contributory Family Medical Scheme.

The employees, according to the service rules applicable, are entitled to remain in service till the age of retirement, that is, 58. This, among other points, has to be properly addressed before taking the disinvestment process forward.

The case of the petitioner, which is the Air Corporation Employees Union, is that the terms of share purchase agreement signed between the Government of India and Talace were not shared with the employees; and that the agreement was signed without any prior consultation with the employees. This, the petitioner points out, is in direct violation of the employees’ constitutional rights as mentioned under Article 19(1)(a). Air India and the Centre should have shared the draft of the agreement with the union before signing it.

Through this petition, the employees’ union had sought appropriate legal measures to protect the terms and conditions of their service post disinvestment.

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