MUMBAI: As the government moves ahead with its plans to exit the struggling national carrier, Air India pilots on Monday demanded the notice period be lowered to one month from six months now.
The government is planning to invite bids for the national carrier early next month and its employees, numbering many thousands, including pilots, are fearing job losses.
At the meeting of the unions called by chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani on Monday at the Hqs, unions also demanded that the government clear all their pending dues before exiting the sale.
Besides Lohani, director finance Vinod Hejmadi and director personnel Amrita Sharan also attended the two-hour meeting with the unions like ACEU, AIEU, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Indian Pilots Guild, All-India Aircraft Engineers Association, Indian Airlines Technicians Association, AIEG and Air India Retired Employees Union among others, according to union sources.
The unions are opposed to disinvestment of the national carrier. They alleged that the government had not consulted with them regarding the plan to privatise Air India. This was the second meeting between the airline management and its trade unions over the contentious issue of privatisation in the last three months.
The airline, including the recently-created subsidiary, AI Asset Holding Company together are sitting on a debt pile of around Rs 58,000 crore besides huge accumulated losses running into thousands of crores.
"At the meeting, in addition to seeking an early clearance of all their dues, pilots also demanded the notice period be curtailed to one month instead of six months now," said a source privy to the discussions.
Air India has 1,800 pilots operating its diverse fleet consisting of wide-body, narrow-body planes and regional jets.
As many as 54 first officers (junior pilots) put in their papers in the last one year but only five have been accepted while the rest are likely to continue after the airline changed their contract conditions, as per the airline.
The management "assured" the unions that their concerns regarding job security, pensions, gratuity, medical facilities, and free passes, among others, have been taken up with the aviation ministry, said another source adding, the management has reportedly assured to clear 25 per cent arrears of productivity linked incentive by December.
(With inputs from ENS)