A section of Air India staff unions on Thursday demanded setting up of coronavirus testing facilities across all stations besides treatment of all suspected coronavirus patients or those requiring isolation or hospital-quarantine at private hospitals. In a letter to Air India chief Rajiv Bansal, these unions also accused airline's medical department of not following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and termed this as ''grave safety risk."
The present cross-section of employees including pilots, engineers, cabin crew, technicians, ground staff, among others and has been signed by eight unions --IPG, ICPA, ACEU, AICCA, AIAEA (narrowbody), AIAEA (widebody), AIEU, and IATA.
"We are deeply pained to draw your attention to the complete apathy of the Regional Director- WR and the Air India medical department in handling of COVID-19 issues. It is shocking that on one hand the crew and staff are risking their lives to fly our Indian brethren back to our homeland, foreign nationals back to their homes in the face of such pandemic, the Air India medical department has declared a self isolation mode for themselves," the letter said.
"Also, the SOPs (by the airline medical department) are not being followed which is a matter of grave Safety concern."
Stating that there have been a few cases of COVID 19 for Air India staff in Mumbai and Delhi, the unions said the lack of logistical and material support for Air India staff has been "colossal".
Alleging that two of the airline pilots were "forced" to undergo medical quarantine at a "substandard facility," the letter said Air India has facilities with private hospitals around the country and the government has placed no bar on Covid patients being admitted in private hospitals.
"When employees put their lives on the line, we expect that we and our families are looked after, which sadly is not the case," it said.
"(Therefore) we demand all Medical clinics of Air India at all stations should be opened immediately and at least one clinic must be opened 24x7 in line with ''medicon bhavan'' & GSD (ground services division) clinics in all regions," the Unions stated in the letter.
Also staff wanting to get tested for COVID 19, due to symptoms, must be facilitated at home through private home testing, it said adding testing facility should be made available at all stations.
The unions have also demanded that "any staff who is found to be a suspect or requiring isolation or quarantine in hospital must be treated at private hospitals which are on Air India panel," the unions demanded.