Air India pilots threaten to go on strike, if needed

Air India’s pilot union, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) at its Central Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday, passed a resolution to go to any extent including a strike, if needed, to safeguard interests of its pilots.

Accusing the airline management of victimising pilots, the resolution came in the wake of Air India management’s response to the ICPA along with the Indian Pilot’s Guild (IPG) joint decision to not taking on any last moment change in their duty roster and instead stick to the duty chart published for February.

The Air India management had warned of ‘disciplinary action’ if pilots were to follow ICPA and IPG directives on not accepting changes to their duty chart. The unions had given the management time till February 10 for remittance of December’s flying allowances to pilots.

The cash-strapped national carrier has been delaying the payouts and the last flying allowance credited was of November, paid on January 16. ICPA officials said that this was a 17-day delay, and no notification was given.

“Please be informed that to protect the morale of our members and to secure flight and passenger safety which is of paramount consideration, there is no question as of now and in the light of your response to recall or withdraw the directive that we have issued,” ICPA said in a letter to the AI management on Tuesday. The Hindu has a copy of the letter.

The ICPA had earlier this month written to the airline management stating that they are yet to receive December’s flying allowance, which consists of around 70% of total salary, and the pilots are working under ‘stressful conditions’ that has ‘direct implications on flight safety’. Flying allowance is paid to a pilot on the basis of the number of flight hours he or she has clocked in a month.

“As pilots are ultimately responsible for flying the aircraft and as our wages linked to flying allowances are comparatively higher than other employees, we have been the favourite whipping boys at whose doorstep all ills and failings of the management can be safely parked. After all the Flying Allowance that is being demanded by us rightfully so is for a job that we have already worked for in the month of December 2018 which is yet to be paid,” the ICPA letter said.

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