The Air India pilots' union, which recently went on a 10-day strike resulting in losses close to Rs 200 crore, violated its own norms, claimed its members.
The issue came to light in the wake of widespread discontent among pilots of the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association, which led the strike.
According to the association's constitution, the first step before calling a strike is to conduct a secret ballot among at least two-third of its members. The decision on the strike is taken depending on the poll result.
Only in case of emergency, such as unfair sacking of a pilot, can the regional heads take a call to ground services without involving members.
In the present case, the association members did not have a secret ballot. "We were just told that strike is on. Nobody asked for our opinion," said a member, requesting anonymity.
But captain Rishabh Kapur, general secretary of the association, said: "Secret ballot is one of the ways to get opinions. We had complete mandate from all members from across the country in writing."
Union sources said a secret ballot is more effective because pilots are not scared to express their opinion. Union members are upset with its leadership because the strike did not achieve what they demanded.
"All we have got is a piece of paper saying that there will be pay parity. I don't think it will ever happen," said a junior pilot, who has been struggling to pay his home loan. "I am not sure if we will get our next month's salary on time," he added.
The association's officer bearers had promised some interim pay parity with the pre-merger Air India to its members before going on strike.
However, its agreement with the government only states that the justice Dharmadhikari committee will consider their demand without any assurance of its implementation.