Nacil looks for arbitrator to settle human resource issues

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 17 2011, 09:30am hrs
Flag carrier Air India (AI) is making a big attempt to settle, once and for all, a human resource issue that has marred its much-hyped merger with Indian Airlines (IA). The National Aviation Company of India (Nacil), that runs AI, is considering appointing an arbitrator, preferably a former judge at the Bombay High Court, to arrive at a decision on compensation and positions of officers and executives at the merged entity.

Rationalising the position and pay structures of employees of the two organisations had become contentional following the merger of the two airlines in August 2007, and has been a major dampener to the turnaround plan of the loss-making Air India.

Fali Homi Major, former air chief marshall and currently an independent director at AI told FE , In the forthcoming board meeting coming up this month, it will be decided whether an arbitrator should be appointed or not for the purpose. HP Ranina, advocate, Supreme Court explains that whenever there is a dispute amongst two parties, there are two ways of arriving at a solution - either go to the court of law or adopt an alternative dispute resolution mechanism under the Arbitration Act. After discussions, the arbitrators award is final and binding and later, it becomes a decree in the court of law.

Nacil has over 31,000 employees. Following the merger, issues related to human resource integration have not been sorted out despite negotiations between AI and IA's administrative staff and the company's top brass. Staff of both airlines argue that they have got a raw deal compared to their counterparts in the other airline. An executive from IA laments that some of the airlines staff have not got promotions even after putting in over ten years of service, while an executive at AI, who has put in same number of years, enjoys a higher rank. He further said that when the merger was announced, the IA management had given verbal assurances to the employees that they will get the posts they deserve in the merged entity. But as yet, nothing substantial has come out, despite many meetings held in the past few months.

An AI source, however, said there have been disputes between executives of both AI and IA on disparity in positions and compensation. The matter has been put up before the management. For instance, in the executive class category at Air India, a deputy general manager is promoted to become an additional general manager before he is promoted to the post of a general manager. However, at Indian Airlines, there is no post as additional general manager. A deputy general manager is promoted to the general manager's post, hence perks also differ for AI and IA executives who have put in same number of years in service.