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Air India Employees Union urges Ministry of Civil Aviation to ask the airline to roll back 10% pay cut announced due to Covid19 lockdown

All industries and commercial establishments have suffered severe losses due to the nationwide lockdown imposed in March due to the outbreak of the novel COVID-19 virus that has impacted the entire country. The halt of all commercial activities has resulted in cutbacks in salaries as industries are scrounging around for liquidity in hopes of sustaining themselves for the unpredictable period of the lockdown. One of the most severely hit industries is the airline and aviation industry as all flights, domestic and international have been completely stopped in light of recent events. This huge impact resulted in Airline companies to cut salaries to manage costs.

“Union letter to Aviation Ministry”

Employee unions of national passenger carrier Air India on Friday urged the Centre against the airline’s decision to impose 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 and will leave the employees vulnerable in this period.

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.”

“Against motives of the central government to provide relief”

The unions clearly stated in their letter that the Central government has provided clear lockdown measures to be implemented to contain the spread of the pandemic and has also invoked the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. Under the 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 percent pay cut,” the letter said.

“Not received pay for February”

Further, they added that the flying crews have not received 70 percent of their wages due for the month of February of 2020 when the lockdown had not yet been initiated.”We admire the decision by the top management of a private airline not to implement the previously announced pay cuts in deference to the Government’s wishes of not reducing pay during the lockdown.

“Urges ministry to roll back pay cut”

“While a private airline is honoring 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” the union stated in their letter.

The unions stated that the pay cut was unnecessary and will affect the morale of the employees which may result in 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 the government’s support to Air India at all fronts during these testing times while we continue operating relief and rescue flights,” the letter read.

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