Air India wage rejig: HC orders status quo on Dharmadhikari panels recommendations

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 29 2014, 10:58am hrs
The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered status quo on the Dharmadhikari panel's recommendations, which proposed a 25% reduction in salaries of the Air India staff.

This means the airline can continue with its wage restructuring, which is being opposed by unions pending the final court order.

Former Supreme Court judge Justice DM Dharmadhikari-headed four-member committee had in January 2012 submitted a report on the integration of about 29,000 employees of unified Air India, including pilots, cabin crew and engineers.

Employee unions of Air India and the erstwhile Indian Airlines had, however, criticized the panel report on issues like pay parity, different flying hours and career progression between the staffers of the two erstwhile carriers.

However, the court also asked Air India to uphold the applicability of Section 9A of the Industrial Disputes Act. The section states that an employer cannot make changes with respect to service conditions of its employees without serving them a notice 21 days before making the changes.

Appearing for Air India's employees union, advocate Firdaus Moosa, told the Financial Express, Air India has for a long time been claiming that they have an exemption from the government, which allowed them not to give a notice under the Section 9A of Industrial Dispute Act if they have to make any changes to the service conditions of workers. However, the court has now ordered that the airline doesn't have this exemption anymore".

During October 2013, eight employee unions of Air India and the erstwhile Indian Airlines had approached the Bombay High Court to review the human resource integration relating to issues such as seniority, performance-linked incentive and salary package of unified Air India.

The court on Monday read out only the operative part of the judgment while the entire judgement is expected to be out on Tuesday.

We have not got the detailed judgment as just the operative part of the order has been announced. So, we will have to wait for the entire judgment before making comments on them, said advocate Jane Cox, who represented the Air India, Engineers and Pilots Association.