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Over 1,500 pilots of Tata Group-run airlines seek Ratan Tata's help

The pilots feel that their concerns are not being heard or addressed by the current HR team

Air India

Deepak Patel New Delhi

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Over 1,500 pilots of Tata Group-run airlines on Tuesday sent a petition to Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, requesting him to intervene in the ongoing matter with Air India’s human resources (HR) department regarding revised service agreement and updated salary structures.

“We are facing a difficult situation with the HR department. We feel we are not being treated with the respect and dignity that we deserve as employees of Air India. As a result, our morale is low, and we are concerned that this will have a negative impact on our ability to perform our duties to the best of our abilities,” the petition, which has been signed by 1,504 pilots, stated. 

The pilots feel that their concerns are not being heard or addressed by the current HR team, it noted. “We are therefore respectfully requesting your assistance in addressing these issues,” it added. 

On April 17, Air India announced a new salary structure for pilots and cabin crew, doubling the guaranteed flying allowance for pilots to 40 hours. In addition, pilots will receive a service reward based on years of service, while other allowances will be increased and a new travel policy proposed. Two pilot unions — Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) and the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) — have expressed disappointment with revised salary structure and revamped service agreement.

Air India, Air India Express and AirAsia India are completely owned by Tata Sons. Vistara is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. Currently, Air India Express is in process of being merged with AirAsia India so that Air India has a single low-cost subsidiary. Additionally, Air India itself is in the process of being merged with Vistara.

Meanwhile, Air India's HR team had on April 16 and 17 sent emails to individual members of the ICPA, stating that each member was being promoted to the position of “senior commander”, which would make them eligible for a monthly “management allowance” and “management duties”.

When members did not e-sign the revised service agreement, they were sent a reminder on April 20. The HR team stated that the revised service agreement would remain valid until April 24.

On April 21, ICPA sent a legal notice to Air India, stating, “The members of the ICPA do not want to be forcibly promoted to the management cadre and wish to retain their current designations and roles, and coverage under and protection of labour law. The so-called ‘promotion’ is merely a smokescreen to remove the members from the category of ‘workmen’, and consequently from the protection of all labour law, and therefore, is utterly illegal and cannot be foisted on them unilaterally.”

The two unions — ICPA and IPG — on Monday warned that if any union member is fired for not signing the airline’s revised service agreement, they will go to “any extent” to reinstate him or her.

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First Published: Apr 25 2023 | 9:04 PM IST

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