Talks between senior pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines and a sub-committee of the Air India Board on incentives and allowances have failed to yield any result with the employees threatening "industrial action" if the issues are not resolved soon.
"We had a talk with the management. We have asked them to pay our dues of flying allowances and productivity-linked incentives (PLI) of three months. If they fail, we will be forced to go for some industrial action," Captain V K Bhalla, who led a five-day long pilots' stir recently, told PTI.
The pilots representatives, led by Bhalla met the Board sub-committee yesterday in Mumbai, had asked the management to phase out expatriate pilots who were being paid "higher" than their Indian counterparts and have been "kept out" of the air-carrier's cost-cutting plan.
An expat commander of a Boeing 777 aircraft gets a salary of USD 12,700 and a bonus of minimum USD 12,000, which comes to around Rs 12 lakh. The minimum salary an expat pilot withdraws is around Rs 6 lakh compared with about Rs three lakh for their Indian counterpart, sources in the pilots' unions said.
"Management is giving us a step-motherly treatment. If they don't have money then why are they paying salaries to expat pilots regularly," Bhalla said, adding that "cash crunch" was only for the Indian pilots who were getting three-times lower salary than the expats.
Bhalla also questioned the management's intention on paying of their PLI and flying allowances, saying the executive pilots withdrew their agitation last month following assurances from Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel that "our due PLI/flying allowances would be paid by October 7."
"Now on November 1, we will have unpaid dues of PLI flying allowance of August, September and October.
How can any one work without salaries," he said. The pilots, during the three-hour meeting in Mumbai, adopted a tough stance and rejected any wage cut proposed by NACIL. NACIL is the holding company of Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines. It was formed to facilitate the merger of the two state-run airlines.
"The pilots' representatives were firm in their stand and told the sub-committee that they would not accept any slashing of wages of any of the 31,000 employees, let alone the executive pilots or engineers," Air India sources said.
The three-member sub-committee comprises AI CMD Arvind Jadhav and Joint Secretaries in the Civil Aviation Ministry, Prashant Sukul and E K Bharat Bhushan.
The panel was set up by the government in September after the executive pilots resorted to a five-day agitation by reporting sick against the management's proposal to slash up to 50 per cent of their PLI and flying allowances.
The sub-committee has been mandated to examine the PLI/flying allowances of executive pilots and engineers and other executive-level officials in totality. PTI