Major unions representing over 30,000 permanent employees of the financially beleaguered national carrier Air India on Monday said that they may go on a flash strike, if their salaries for May are not paid immediately.
"It is already 20th of the month and all the 44,000 employees of Air India have not received any payment of May salary. Everyone is overstressed, and our financial commitments like rents and loans are piling up," a senior union representative of one of the major pilot unions said from Mumbai but demanded not to be named.
The airline employs about 14,000 on a contractual basis across the operations spectrum.
According to the union representative, a consensus was being built throughout the organisation to implement a "no-pay--no work" policy.
"Well, not only us, our families are also facing much difficulty. In this situation, when essential commodities prices are sky rocketing, we the employees of Air India have become paupers," said the representative, adding that a flash strike may be on cards.
Earlier, Air India's chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav wrote to the employees assuring them that the salary payments would be made in a short while, without specifying any date.
"I am sorry that your salary statement could not be released on June 8. However, with help from the government, we have got the funds released and your salaries would be credited to your accounts soon," Jadhav wrote in a letter to employees Thursday.
In his letter, Jadhav also said that the carrier was finding it difficult to continue operations in the wake of rising debt and a cash crunch.
"Increasing debts, mushrooming interest burden, and increasing fuel costs are financially crippling the company. It is becoming difficult to sustain our operations without cash flows and revenue generation."
Representatives of two other unions, who were de-recognised following a strike in 2010, said they too would join the strike if the pay issue was not settled soon.
Meanwhile, a senior Air India official said that the May salaries would be paid by June 24 and that the management had received no intimation of a strike.
"It's all rumour mongering and there is no substance in such reports," the official said.
Recently, the cash-strapped airline faced a 10-day strike which was called by one of the pilots' associations. The strike had caused cancellation of 1,600 flights and a revenue loss of Rs 150 crore to the company.