New Delhi: Alleging blatant discrimination by Air India's Personnel and Finance Departments, the pilots have told the national carrier's management that if such behaviour continues unchecked, the Director, Personnel will be responsible for the consequences.
In a letter to Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal, the pilots' associations, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association and the Indian Pilots Guild, have alleged that the management is discriminating against the pilots.
"We request you to kindly direct the concerned departments to clear backlogged files as well as outstanding dues for all pilots. We have cooperated unconditionally above and beyond the call of duty to ensure smooth flight operations. This blatant discrimination, among other grievances, has severely hampered our morale and faith in these departments. If such behaviour continues unchecked, the Director, Personnel will be responsible for the consequences to follow," the pilots said.
"We would like to bring to your notice the lackadaisical attitude of the Personnel and Finance Departments in ensuring timely action and payment when it comes to pilots," the letter said.
"When it comes to doling out promotions en masse for themselves or other support departments, not even a pandemic or national lockdown can dent their enthusiasm. When even retrospective deductions are made on our wages with immediate effect by way of prompt circulars, why do the same people drag their feet when it comes to clearing our rightful dues or honouring our service conditions?" the pilots asked.
Citing examples of this "lackadaisical attitude", the pilots said that the Special Pay increment, as per the bilateral wage agreement between the management and the ICPA of January 1, 2016, mentions a yearly increment as per years of service in the grade.
"No increment has been made in special pay since 2019. This routine exercise is never given priority, as pilots are the prime beneficiaries. Further, despite clear directions from the Hon. Supreme Court, the 2016 wage has been illegally and unilaterally imposed upon pilots of the IPG who already have a separate bilateral wage agreement. The TMU (Temporary Medically Unfit) Insurance compensation for pilots is never paid on time. Pilots are made to run after their files from one department to the next till there are no more excuses to delay processing. At times, the delay is in years," they said.
The pilots alleged that the Captain or Commander Grade revision is never carried out on time, despite being a routine annual exercise.
Then, the Personnel Department's draft Establishment orders are replete with mistakes/omissions which has to be corrected through repeated representations, they said. After all this unnecessary delay, when the order is eventually released, the financial benefits accrue from the date of the Establishment order and not from the actual date of promotion, they said.
"Why is the cost of the inefficiency of the Personnel Department being paid by pilots?" they asked.
The PMU (Permanently Medical Unfit) compensation to any affected pilot is again never paid on time. As mentioned above, the affected pilot is made to run from pillar to post for his/her rightful compensation. "Please note that these pilots have lost their source of livelihood as they are permanently grounded. They are being let down by the company
when they need it the most," the pilots said.
They also said that the retirement benefits of recent retirees are yet to be cleared. The treatment meted out to these loyal long-serving employees of Air India is unethical, as per the pilots.