Air India employees protest against manager

Sushant Ranjan
Monday, 22 October 2018

Manager held for molesting employee, later released on bail; more than 80 staffers take part in protest at Pune airport

PUNE: More than 80 contractual employees of Air India Air Transport Service Limited (AI ATSL), a subsidiary of Air India, started a protest against their manager after he removed seven people from their posts and also allegedly molested a woman employee. These employees are responsible for ground activities such as facilitation of check-in, issuance of boarding passes, checking of tickets, boarding announcement among other things. The manager was arrested and later released on bail.

On Sunday, the staffers refused to carry out certain duties just to convey their displeasure over the incident. However, they continued with the duties that are directly related to daily operations.

The employees demanded removal of Archies Gajbhiye (38), Manager and Head. The protest started on Friday evening after Gajbhiye announced that seven staffers were removed from their posts including three ladies and four men. The staffers claim that Gajbhiye behaved rudely with them. 

According to the staffers, Gajbhiye also misbehaved with a female staffer who was at the counter. Later, a police complaint was filed against him by the female staffer. 

According to the police, a 57-year-old woman lodged a complaint of molestation against Archies Gajbhiye at Vimantal police station. The incident took place on October 19 around 7.45 pm at Air India reservation office at Pune airport. There was an argument between accused and the employee over the renewal of labour contract. He allegedly abused two women employee, who fell down. When the complainant was trying to help her get up, the accused allegedly molested her. He was arrested and then released on bail on Saturday.

As per the staffers, Gajbhiye had threatened to transfer them to Kolhapur or discontinue the contracts with immediate effect if they did not follow his instructions properly. They also alleged that on Friday, services of seven contractual staffers, including three women, were discontinued.

This protest caused chaos at the airline’s counters at Pune airport with fliers facing anxious moments due to uncertainty resulting from the protest. “There is an Air India employees strike at Pune airport. We had booked air tickets for Dubai in advance but are now stuck at Pune airport. Our flight is scheduled to depart at 3.40 pm but now we are worried due to the strike,” Hiten Kawade, a flier said. 

“In the evening, senior officers met us and promised that our issues will be resolved on Tuesday. They requested us to halt the protest and join the work in the regular manner as tomorrow (Monday) President Ramnath Kovind is scheduled to visit Pune. We will soon take a decision in this regard,” a protesting staffer said.

Air India’s Station Manager Suhas Jadhav and airline’s General Manager (Corporate Communication) GP Rao refused to comment on the issue.

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