Air India had resorted to salary cuts in 2012 for its employees...
as part of its turnaround plan. Since then, arrears have been accumulating even as certain section of employees accepted revised pay scales.
The letter by the Air India's largest pilots' union comes at a time when Union Cabinet has already given its nod for disinvestment of Air India and appointing a group of ministers to chalk out the future course of action for the airline, which is saddled with a debt of Rs 48,876.81 crore as on 31 March.
"We make a humble appeal to the government to issue orders for release of our illegally withheld 25 percent flying allowances and related allowances before disinvestment and/or privatisation so that the new management can start with clean financial statements," says the ICPA letter.
The ICPA, which claims to have more than 1,000 members, represents the pilots of narrow-bodied planes of Air India.
The arrears to be paid to the 27,000-odd staff of Air India that includes pilots and cabin crew are estimated to be around Rs 1,200 crore. Out of the total amount, about Rs 400 crore is due for pilots, according to a senior pilot.
The union, however, said that they were not against the decision of privatisation per se.
"We are not averse to the decision of the government as we are confident that the government will act keeping in mind the best interest of the airline which has served the nation for decades," the letter said.
It also noted that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), in its meeting held on 28 June, had given an in-principle approval for considering strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries and also approved the appointment of advisors for this.
Air India has also put on hold employee contracts that were coming up for renewal as the government prepares for the airline’s privatization.Fearing the loss of jobs, other employees' unions of Air India have warned of large scale protests if the government went ahead with privatisation of the airline.
Raju, in a recent interview, had said that he thinks employees would still continue even after privatisation because of their technical know-how.