Air Indias proposed strike off after assurance on dues

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 31 2012, 06:07am hrs
National carrier Air Indias eight employee unions have called off their proposed strike from April 2 after the management assured them that the employees' pending salaries will be paid by June 30.

We have given them a payment schedule under which we will clear all the overdues by June, AI chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan told reporters in Delhi after a meeting with the unions and Rajya Sabha parlliamentarian Bhakchandra Mungekar. The strike has been called off.

The management agreed to pay one month's extra allowances between April and June; and the past five months' dues will paid by June 30. The management said that the backlog of salary and allowances could be cleared before June 30 if the airline receives government funds. In such a scenario, the backlog will be cleared within a week of receiving the funds, said an airline spokesperson. The airline also extracted a promise from its unions of no more strikes.

The airline hasnt paid its employees performance-linked incentives, flying allowance and stopover allowance since November. The debt-ridden airlines owes employees R900 crore.

The management has told us that the dues will be cleared after the equity infusion of R4,000 crore by the government, said an engineer representing the joint forum of unions. We have been told that the equity infusion will come in by May. The Indian Pilots Guild said in a statement: The employees representatives have accepted the proposed schedule of payment and the strike has been called off. All the unions have been given a written commitment by the management of meeting the payments. However, the letter to the unions states this payment plan can be adhered to only if there is absolutely no interruption or disruption in the operations of our airline.

The airline, with an accumulated losses of R20,000 crore, been making losses of R10 crore a day. The airline expects to begin its debt-restructuring plan from April 1. According to the proposal, banks will convert R11,000 crore of its working capital loans to long-term loans and R3,400 crore will be put on cash-credit facility. The government had agreed to infuse R4,000 crore equity into AI and will support an issue of R7,000 crore non-convertible debentures.