So has Ajit Singh actually been wrongly briefed about Air India pilots who say they have not received emoluments for the last four months?
A day after the civil aviation minister asserted that pilots of AI are being paid regularly, the pilots say only salary—which forms 20 percent of their total income—has been paid till July while flying allowances—which make up the remaining 80 percent of income—are due for the last four months.
So is it a case of misplaced accounting by the minister or is he hoping that the issue will die a natural death once recommendations of the Dharmadhikari Committee on rationalising pay of all AI employees are implemented? This committee is rationalising pay and promotion structures of the merged airline and has already said flying allowances will be merged into salary.
In a letter to the minister, pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines have drawn a parallel with employees of Kingfisher Airlines who have not been paid anything for seven months to say they too are under stress.
“It is psychological stress which unfortunately drove an Air India engineer to commit suicide last year. It is also evident that the financial stress is affecting our families, which is the case of the wife of a ground staff in Kingfisher Airlines who committed suicide due to non-payment of salary to her husband……you will appreciate that it is highly impossible to survive with less than 1/4th of the salary at the present inflation rate, wherein the prices of even our daily domestic needs have increased many folds. The banks and financial institutes do not understand delayed salaries.”
The pilots have also added, for good measure, that it is dangerous to ignore effects of personal psychological stress on crew performance.
Will the minister listen to their pleas? Because if he does, he may also have to sort out the much trickier and messy issue of salary arrears to Kingfisher pilots too.
Speaking to the media today, Singh said he had not received any letter on the issue of non-payment of salaries from the ICPA (pilots who fly narrow body aircraft).
Air India has a total of 1,400 pilots of which about 600 owe allegiance to the ICPA. This is their second letter to the minister in four days over the salary issue.