Saturday, November 18, 2017

Scrap privatisation plans: Air India employees

Various employee unions of Air India have come together to demand that the airline’s privatisation plans be scrapped and that the government initiate a dialogue with them before taking a decision.

Earlier this week, union members handed over a joint petition to this effect to Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien at Mumbai airport.

Mr. O’Brien, who is the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee in charge of Civil Aviation, Transport and Tourism, called Air India “a national treasure” and said it cannot be privatised. “I have promised them that we will call a delegation to Delhi and set up a meeting with the parliamentary committee, and we will oppose the privatisation,” Mr. O’Brien said.

The union leaders recently also met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to seek support.

“Our main goal is to bring all Air India unions on a common platform to resist the airline’s privatisation,” said a representative of one of the unions. While the federation comprises three unions, he said talks are on with Indian Airlines unions, staff unions and pilots’ unions to join the platform.

The unions have said that workers should not be made to pay for faulty decisions made by the management and the government, such as the unplanned fleet acquisition.

“When the combined turnover of Air India and Indian Airlines was only around ₹14,000 crore, how could they buy a fleet worth ₹50,000 crore without taking into account the interest burden of the loan?” a leader of one of the major unions asked.

The unions said the airline is making operational profits and that it is in loss only due to the repayment of the loan.
18/11/17 Ajeet Mahale/The Hindu