Monday, November 08, 2021

Air India management should ensure staff arrears payment before Tata handover: Indian Pilots Guild

The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), one of the pilot unions of Air India, has expressed hope that the outgoing management will ensure that the process of settling employees arrears is “righteously” carried out prior to the airline going to the new owner Tata Sons.

In a letter to Air India CMD late Sunday evening, the guild said that it is “optimistic” about making a fresh start with the airline's new owners, at the same time, urged the current dispensation not to “exploit” the employees as it could potentially lead to mass protest and industrial unrest just as the company changes hands.

According to the IPG, the 2006 Wage Agreement allocated a monthly Layover Subsistence Allowance (LSA) for captains and for co-pilots. Over the years, 25 per cent of these amounts were held back and are still due. Besides, overtime payments arising out of this wage pact are long overdue as well, it said, adding that in 2012, a wrongful and unilateral 25 per cent pay cut had been implemented on all employees.

“As we are all aware, the government is committed to settling all outstanding dues with employees pre-hand-over. In this regard, certain points must not be missed whilst implementing the said process,” the IPG said in the letter.

Stating that LSA was an allowance provided to sustain one's self on international layovers where the cost of living is exponentially higher, the guild said pilots would spend from their own pockets on international layovers because these sums of money were not rightfully paid on time. The reimbursement of these foreign currency expenses that have been incurred for so many years is long overdue, it said.

The arrears arising out of the 25 per cent cut on LSA are due to its members. So naturally, when these arrears are settled there should be no question of any tax burden on the pilots, the guild said in the letter. Further, it said: This is a reimbursement of our expenses at foreign stations which have already been incurred. “Under no circumstances should these arrears be considered a form of income.”

It is most necessary that the books of accounts reflect the same and a suitable method of disbursement be devised so as to avoid any query from the Indian regulatory authorities, the letter stated.

The company has long been aware of the liability due to employees as well as the government's commitment to settling these dues. There is a need for transparency concerning the said matter, it said.

08/11/21 Agencies/Free Press Journal

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