Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Central trade unions urge PM to roll back Air India sale

New Delhi: Ten Central trade unions on Tuesday wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the sale of Air India to the Tatas and roll back what they termed the “policy of selling national assets”.

They said the people of the country, and the employees of Air India in particular, were unhappy with the recently announced sale of the national carrier.

“By selling Air India by hook or by crook (because it is slowly emerging that it has been sold for a song), the government has tried to cover up its misdeeds,” the letter stated, while listing out decisions in the past that had left Air India in a precarious financial position.

The unions stressed that the sale of Air India offered greater avenues for profitability to the new owners, with 141 aircraft, well-trained workforce, 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international slots at Indian airports and 900 abroad.

“This sale of Air India to Tatas facilitates an oligopoly. The combined revenues of the three airlines — Air India, Vistara and Air Asia (the latter two also owned by Tatas) — amounted to ₹ 40,500 crore in 2020, out of the total revenues of the entire industry amounting to ₹ 95,700 crore, i.e. 42.32%, whereas Indigo, has a market share of 37.41%. By any account, this would mean that privatisation of Air India has resulted in one of the most concentrated markets in India,” the letter noted.

There was no clarity on the future of the 14,000 employees of the airline, who were praised for their service during the COVID-19 lockdown, it added.

The letter was signed by the Centre of Indian Trade Union, the All-India Trade Union Congress, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the All-India United Trade Union Centre, the Trade Union Coordination Committee, the Self Employed Women’s Association, the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions, the Labour Progressive Federation and the United Trade Union Congress.

19/10/21 The Hindu

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