Air India threatens to derecognise pilots' union

ICPA writes to management, chief labour commissioner clarifying position


Sweta Ranjan | April 12, 2011

The Air India management on Saturday threatened to derecognise the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA), a pilots' union, over its recent protest demanding pay parity for the pilots of the national carrier.

ICPA pilots had started wearing a black band around their arms after the union advised the move in a circular which also called the airline's management "corrupt".

In response, the executive director of Air India wrote to ICPA saying, “...the company will be left with no option but to initiate such measures, as may be deemed proper including de-recognition of your association……reconsider your proposed plan and refrain from any course of action which is likely to tarnish the image of the company and smooth flight operation”.

The letter also said, “You have also alleged “ever growing corruption in Air India” to which management takes strong exception. These allegations are not only false and derogatory…..the gravity of these allegations is also to  be seen in the context of serious efforts being made by the management and government to overcome grave financial situation being faced by the company”.

The management has called the approach and statements of ICPA "obnoxious" and "disparaging". The management has also blamed the union for creating a negative image of air India among travellers.

In response, ICPA president captain A S Bhinder replied on Monday, “we are shocked and surprised o receive your letter which is in response to our directive which is peaceful and democratic expression of collective frustration at the continued repressive and unfair labour practices being followed by the management”.

Bhinder maintained that instead of appreciating the fact that the ICPA which has chosen to repose faith in the sanctity of the conciliation process currently underway, despite all provocations and pressures from its increasingly despondent membership to take drastic remedial actions, the management has chosen to intimidate and coerce the union.

ICPA wrote, “Other than to subserve the immediate objective of intimidating the union, the long term objective behind this carefully crafted response is simply to create a prejudicial record against the union and to somehow paint it as being inimical to company’s image and ‘smooth flight operation.'"

ICPA also asked the management to “abjure further intimidating the union and its office bearers” and advised it to “sincerely participate in resolving all the outstanding industrial disputes”.

On Monday the union also wrote to the chief labour commissioner (CLC) requesting for further action. The letter says, “While we are grateful to you for advising the representatives of the management to submit their detailed views and contention on the pending issues….. They were also advised to concretize their proposal and submit the same to the competent authority within 10 days. The said period is already over and it is a matter of great regret that despite your specific directions recorded in the minutes, we have not received any reply or response from the management till date.”

ICPA's demands have centre around issues of pay parity for pilots' of the erstwhile Indian Arilines with their conterparts from Air India, timely payment of salaries and better working conditions for pilots.



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