Countermand Air India’s decision to cut pay: Unions to Centre

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Employee unions of national passenger carrier Air India on Friday urged the Centre to countermand the airline’s decision to institute a unilateral pay cut for three months.

The unions said that the move is against the already issued central directives for all PSUs during the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the unions said: “We are writing to you at the backdrop of a unilateral pay cut imposed on employees of Air India Ltd for three months against the Government’s instructions. While all the PSUs are following the directions of the Government, it is agonizing to note Air India has imposed pay cut in wake of Covid-19 crisis.”

“It is explicitly reflected as Covid-19 pay cut in March 2020 salary slip.”

The unions pointed out that the Central government has invoked the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 with directions to implement lockdown measures for the containment of spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Under the said act, all employers are mandated to make payment of wages of their workers, at their workplace, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown.

“In spite of instructions from the Government of India, concerning the welfare of the employees and directions to make payment of wages on the due date, the management of Air India defaulted on timely payment of salary which was paid on 18th April 2020 with a 10 per cent pay cut,” the letter said.

Besides, the union cited that flying crew are yet to receive 70 per cent of their wages for the work done in the month of February 2020.

“We admire the decision by the top management of a private airline not to implement the previously announced pay cuts in deference to Government’s wishes of not reducing pay during the lockdown.

“While a private airline is honouring the directions of the Government, it is of great consequence for Air India to follow suit and also lead by example. Any pay cut with regards to Covid lockdown has to be voluntary in nature as followed by the senior management of the private airline.”

Furthermore, the unions termed the move as mere optics and unnecessary which will hit the morale of the employees causing a cascading effect on the Indian economy.

“We request you to countermand Air India Committee’s decision on COVID pay cut which is against the Government Directives and also treat us at par with other PSUs during lockdown.

“We also request you to ensure government’s support to Air India at all fronts during these testing times while we continue operating relief and rescue flights,” the letter read.