NEW DELHI: In what is seen as a major standdown, the pilots’ union of Air India has withdrawn its opposition to the new wage pact and employment agreement.
In a joint letter issued on Thursday, the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) withdrew their stand and told their members that they are free to sign new wage contracts offered by the new Tata group management of Air India.
“As dedicated Air Indians, we believe it is crucial to express our readiness to settle the dispute at hand and find an amicable resolution for the benefit of both parties,” the IPG and ICPA said in a joint letter to their members.
The letter further read, “Over the past year, our attempts to reach a resolution have been hindered by a lack of cooperation from the management. Their unwillingness to address our concerns and apathetic attitude has resulted in a prolonged stalemate and escalating tensions.”
“Upon the assurances given in the online ‘Townhall Meeting for Pilots’ and in the interest of the aspirations of Air India, The Tata Group and our passengers, the Joint Directive No.01 of 2023, Sub: Unilateral Changes in Policies stands withdrawn,” the letter titled as ‘Withdrawn of Joint Directive Np01 of 2023’, added.
The announcement came after a joint meeting held on Thursday, wherein the unions’ members were told that they are free to sign the new wage contract.
Last month, the Tata Group-owned airline announced a new salary structure for pilots and cabin crew but the staff was disappointed with the revisions. Their main grouse was about promoting captains with more than four years of experience in management.
In a communication to all employees including pilots and crew members in April this year, Air India management had said that they announced the revision of their employment contracts and revised compensation for flying staff.
“I am reaching directly to our flying staff through this platform as currently there is no recognized union at Air India. This is within the framework of law,” said Air India Chief Human Resource Officer Suresh Tripathi, had said in a video message.
The airline had said that the contract sent is a compilation of applicable policies and existing rules. Wherever there are differences, their changes are introduced to have a performance and merit-based culture as would be the ask of any world-class and professionally run airline.
In the last one year, they have been hearing all the concerns of their flying community through various forums and constant communication, the Air India management said.
“Guaranteed flying allowance has moved upwards from existing 20 hours to fixed 40 hours. With our ambitious growth and large aircraft order, we as an organisation are confident to provide you more and more opportunities for flying. The fact remains that at 70 hours of flying, income across the board has increased. We are a productivity-oriented organisation, and anyone who is ready to contribute will grow and prosper,” the airline had said.
“Our Trainers who would be investing more time in training as we ramp up, have been given a significant increase in pay in the form of both fixed and variable. There is more than 40 per cent increase in the allowance for trainers,” it added.
Air India said flying allowance rates are one of the highest in the Indian industry, with even higher amounts beyond 40 hours. There used to be a difference in flying rates in the same pilot rank which has been done away with to promote fairness.
They have introduced additional compensation during training of command upgrade and conversion training which was not existing earlier. There was not any service reward existing to recognise the contribution of experienced staff. A fixed amount has been added to salaries.
“These are all changes we have introduced for the better and to become market competitive, which was a key ask. We have also introduced best-in-class employee insurance and other benefits which were not existing earlier at Air India to support the welfare of our flying staff,” the airline’s management had said. (ANI)