Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Clock Is Ticking: Air India Staff Asked To Vacate Housing Colonies By July 26th

Calls for Air India employees to vacate housing colonies in Mumbai and Delhi are getting stronger, with a July deadline looming large with possible penalties. AI staff were told about the situation even before the airline went to private owners, but those living in these colonies for years are now finding it hard to move out.

India's central government has advised Air India to remind its employees residing in Delhi's Vasant Vihar and Mumbai's Kalina areas to vacate the premises by July 26th. The issue dates back to 2021, before the sale of the carrier, when the government decided that Air India's land and colonies in these areas would have to be vacated within six months after the privatization process is completed.

Confirming the eviction notice, Air India GM (industrial relations) Meenakshi Kashyap said in a note,“…We are now in receipt of an email dated May 18, 2022, from AIAHL advising us to send reminder to residents to vacate company accommodation latest by July 26, 2022, in line with the decision of (AI divestment GoM), which has already been conveyed to them…”

The decision has not gone down well with the staff members staying there, with employee unions protesting the move and planning to approach the High Court against the eviction notices. The issue is now pending before the labor commissioner's office, which had initiated a conciliation process.

The memo sent to the employees, and accessed by the Business Standard, warns of stern action if the land is not vacated, stating,

“In case of your failure to vacate the accommodation and continue to unauthorisedly occupy the same you would be liable to pay a penal rent equivalent to the sum of normal occupancy charges and double the market rent for the period of unauthorized occupancy. In addition, you shall also be liable to pay damage charges of Rs. 10 lakh (for Delhi)/Rs. 15 lakh (for Mumbai).”

Employees have also been told that any non-compliance could be met with a withdrawal of retirement or service benefits and any other financial benefits.

Air India's land and other properties were never on the negotiating table while navigating the privatization process. These were, in fact, transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle- Air India Asset Holdings Limited (AIAHL).

24/05/22 Gaurav Joshi/Simple Flying

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