Tuesday, July 19, 2022

State must be model employer says AI unions; At par with any other pvt airline after disinvestment, says Centre

State is expected to be a model employee and cannot bring in unilateral changes to essential service conditions," argued the counsel for Air India employees on Tuesday.

They had petitioned the Bombay high court against notice for eviction from the AI colony, which they received after the change of guard of the national carrier, Air India. But in its reply to the petitions Ministry of Civil Aviation said “with disinvestment of Air India on 27.1.2022, the airline became a private entity at par with other private airline.’’

Senior counsel Sanjay Singhvi representing one of the three AI unions which went to the HC to seek relief and ensure they are not rendered homeless, said there has been a “unilateral change’’ to the condition of employment, without any notice to the employees.

The HC bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik were hearing petitions filed by the Aviation Industry Employees guild, Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU), Western Region and All India Service Engineers Association (AISEA) against the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Union of India and others after receiving notice to vacate premises in Santa Cruz colony for staffers or face penal action.

The Centre’s affidavit filed by Kameshwar Mishra, Under Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, opposing the petitions, however, said: “accommodation provided’’ including at the Air India colony at Kalina, Santa Cruz, Mumbai cannot be enjoyed perpetually and cannot be said to an essential condition of service.

The disinvestment “did not include non-core assets- including land and building , which were to be transferred to AI Asset Holding Ltd (AIAHL) , a Special purpose vehicle (SPV) created for disinvestment of AI and its subsidiaries,’’ and a debt of AI amounting to Rs 22064 crore was transferred to the SPV in 2018 and “monetization of non-core assets will be used to offset the debt transferred to the SPV", said the reply adding “non-core assets’’ included paintings and artefacts and other non operational assets of AI Ltd.

19/07/22 Swati Deshpande/Times of India

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