Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said he has not received any letter from the Air India pilots union seeking his intervention to secure their pending salaries.
“I have not received any such letter from the pilots or anyone from Air India. The August salaries have been paid to the employees of Air India,” Ajit Singh said.
The national carrier, on its part, said it had paid July salaries to all its operations employees, including pilots, Sep 27, 2012. The salaries of non-licensed category employees, which includes staffers, for August were paid Sep 29, 2012.
In addition, the airline said it had paid the productivity linked incentives (PLI) for the licensed category, which includes pilots and crew members, for May.
The payments to the employees in September had entailed an overall expenditure of Rs.230 crore to the airline.
The development comes as the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots wrote a letter to the minister claiming that the condition of the employees of the national carrier is similar to that of cash-strapped carrier Kingfisher Airlines.
“Our salaries and flying allowances, too, are pending for months and the uncertainty regarding the schedule of payments has become unbearable. An unsatisfied employee cannot keep up efficiency for long as his financial worries take over his thought process. A stressed pilot is a potential disaster in waiting,” Captain T. Praveen Keerthi, general secretary, ICPA said.
“We appreciate your understanding of the fact that flight safety is affected if employees have not been paid for several months. We humbly request you to kindly intervene at the earliest and restore normalcy in our lives which unfortunately has been lacking for the past three years,” Keerthi added.
In the letter, the ICPA termed the recent incident of suicide committed by the wife of a Kingfisher employee as “unfortunate”.
The fresh brewing of labour trouble at Air India comes after the same union had sent a legal notice to the national carrier for implementing new flight duty time limitation (FDTL) norms given by the aviation regulator.
The guidelines govern aspects like the maximum daily flight duty period including flying hours limitations, rest period, staff on duty travel and number of landings allowed per pilot as well as the crew to retain their licence.
The ICPA sent a legal notice Sep 14 to Air India’s CMD Rohit Nandan on the issue of the airline unilaterally altering the FDTL.
The legal notice asked the airline not to alter the FDTL without consulting the union as the FDTL is governed by an agreement between the ICPA and the management since 1993.
The airline has entered into separate labour contracts with most of its unions.
The ICPA also said that the management has issued a new route pattern effective Sep 16 which it feels is in violation of their bilateral agreements.