Air India has come under fire from its employees and union members, days after the state-owned airline proposed a cut in its number of recognised unions to just two from the existing 15 unions. The national carrier, which has over 25,000 staff, had recently laid a proposal to consolidate all its recognised unions into two — one for pilots and the other for the rest of its employees.
“It’s difficult to bring people with conflicting interest under one umbrella,” said a member of Air India Engineers Association. “This idea doesn’t seem very convincing to us,” he said.
“The management wants to follow the railways, which in 2007 reduced its unions from 34 to two. But, then, aviation is a unique industry. Such changes may not be possible in the aviation industry,” an Air India employee told FE.
Meanwhile, officials from the pilots association of the airline said that the airline needs to settle several internal issues before it goes ahead with its proposed plans to have a single union for pilots. “We are for one pilot union but then this can’t be imposed unless the airline settles its merger related issues — human resource issues and pay parity,” said Rajat Rana, general secretary, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (Icpa), a representative body for the pilots of Air India that has over 600 members under its fold.
“The management needs to address issues like transport, finances, leaves, salary, etc, which are still different for Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines employees,” the pilot said. “Unless the human resource issues are addressed, unification of unions would be disastrous.”
The pilot added that he is yet to be officially communicated by the company on its union unification plans.
However, a senior AI official said having a single union for pilots is the best way to tackle HR related issues. He also said Air India Engineering Services and Air India Air Transport Services would have their own unions if their management so desires. “What we have right now are just the blue prints. The execution, however, requires a nod from the civil aviation ministry,” he added.