Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has taken up his next challenge: to give a ‘young’ look to the ailing Hotel Corporation of India (HCI) that runs the Centaur chain of hotels. He also intends to replace permanent employees with contract jobs.
Ironically, while he is facing political heat for taking steps that may allegedly ruin Air India’s business, Singh wants to finance the early retirement scheme through AI’s funds.
The civil aviation ministry has sent a draft cabinet note for inter-ministerial consultations that seeks to reduce the age of retirement in HCI to 58. Currently, the age of superannuation is 60. The new proposal is aimed to be applied retrospectively from July 1, 2013.
The note states that the average age of HCI employees is 54 years — “too high for a hospitality company”. It also mentions that the vacancies can be filled up by “short-term contracts”.
HCI operates two Centaur hotels, one each at Delhi and Srinagar, and two Chefair flight kitchens. Singh expects that the new proposal will go through smoothly as the retirement age of AI employees is also 58 years.
The HCI is a loss-making establishment for the past 10 years. In March, it had 1276 employees. The draft cabinet note also justified scooping AI’s fund for making the one-time retirement payment to seniors as it is considered to be less expensive than maintaining the annual salary bills.