Dharmadhikari panel submits report on AI

Committee forwards various recommendations regarding wages of employees of AI


Sweta Ranjan | February 1, 2012

The long-awaited report by justice Dharmadhikari committee on Air India wages issue was finally submitted to the civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Tuesday. After almost five years of the merger of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India, justice Dharmadhikari report on integration of about 29,000 employees of unified Air India, including pilots, cabin crew and engineers was submitted.

The Dharmadhikari committee was constituted an year ago to draw out a plan for smooth integration of wage issue between the two state-run carriers. The committee has forwarded various recommendations regarding wages of about 30,000 employees of the national carrier Air India.

Due to the strife between the employees of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India management the committee was formed, which was headed by a retired judge of the supreme court, justice Dharmadhikari. The panel was expected to draw out the ways for settling down the merger issue and critical issues like career progression, integration across various cadres, rationalisation of their pay scale.

Though details of the 100-page report were not available immediately, sources from Air India reveal that the committee has made several recommendations on various critical issues.

Even after five years of merger the company (March 2007), Air India, still lacks a uniform pay scale and growth plan for employees of the two organisations.

The cash-strapped airline is burdened with a debt of Rs 43,000 crore and has accumulated losses of over Rs 13,000 crore. The airline also has an annual wage bill of Rs 3,000 crore.

Also, after the merger, salaries and career paths of the two sets of employees were not harmonised i.e., employees on the same post have different salaries and dissimilar career paths. This has caused a lot of angst among employees over the past five years, leading to strikes, protesting against unequal pay to counterparts.

Last year Pilot group of the erstwhile Indian Airlines had gone on a 10-day strike due to un-uniformed wages.  The strike, demanding wage parity, was called off only after Justice Dharmadhikari committee was formed.

The committee was also supposed to examine principles governing retirement benefits of the airline's employees, look into issues relating to common working conditions and adoption of industry related practices core to the integration process.

The recommendation of the panel is expected to solve long-standing issues since merger of the two carriers. The panel interacted with all stakeholders, various union bodies and the management of Air India.

The debt-burdened Air India, since merger, has suffered three strikes. Besides the pay parity and career progression issues the employees of Air India, there have also been issues of delayed payments of salaries and allowances.

The committee members were Prof Ravindra H Dholakia of IIM Ahmedabad, Rajeshwar Dayal, expert on public sector employees' service matters and senior civil aviation ministry official Syed Nasir Ali.



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