Fresh trouble seems to be brewing for Air India (AI). After the airline failed to pay flying allowance, which constitutes around 75% of a pilot’s salary, in October, the AI pilots’ union called an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss "no pay no work".
The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), the union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots, said in a communication to its members that it had decided that "all those who do not wish to continue flying under these stressful conditions" may forward their name to ICPA and their respective Operations head.
Pilots claim that as such the airline is two months behind schedule in the payment of allowances. The allowance they should have been paid on December 31, 2013 was for the flying done in October, and the delay had added to their woes.
"Working without wages is not short of slavery and we pilots are no exception to this exploitation on a regular basis. We have been exercising extreme restraint as the company is only paying us 75% of our rightful dues for the past year and-a-half," the ICPA said in a letter to its members.
"These irregular and partial payments have been adding undue stress on our members. This directly affects flight safety and hence is an issue of concern to us," it said, adding that many members have said discharging duty under stress and strain may put flight safety norms under a cloud.
"In the first month of the year we have additional financial commitments such as renewing our ‘loss of licence’ insurance policies. The delay in payment is causing us immense stress as we feel insecure to fly without adequate insurance cover," said a pilot on condition of anonymity.
"We have been called for a meeting on Monday," said an ICPA office bearer after Sunday’s meeting.
"The management will take steps to ensure smooth operation of flights," said an AI official. "ICPA had submitted an undertaking that they shall not indulge in industrial unrest of any sort till the recommendations of the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee are implemented and we hope they will stick to it," he said.