Pilots’ association accuses Air India of gender discrimination | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Pilots’ association accuses Air India of gender discrimination

ByMalavika Murali
Sep 07, 2021 11:36 AM IST

The association said that the Upgradation List excluded the names or misspelt the names of few women pilots who took maternity leaves, thereby amounting to a denial of due service benefits and adversely affecting their seniority

The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association accused the government’s Air India of actively discriminating against women pilots, in a letter written to Air India Managing Director Rajiv Bansal on Monday.

Representational image. (REUTERS)
Representational image. (REUTERS)

In the letter, the association said that the Upgradation List excluded the names or misspelt the names of few women pilots who took maternity leaves, thereby amounting to a denial of due service benefits like Leave Travel Concession (LTC) and adversely affecting their seniority.

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“It is reiterated that the present actions of Air India amount to a complete unauthorized transgression vis-à-vis the constitutionally protected rights of its female Pilot workforce and are, therefore, unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, and contrary to the judicial pronouncements on this issue,” the letter said.

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The letter said that such discrimination has adversely affected the morale and dignity of the said women pilots and called on Air India to restore their rightful seniority.

According to an extant policy of Air India, women pilots are compulsorily taken off all flight duties when they report their pregnancy. The said pilot is then shifted to desk duty with full pay, excluding flying allowance, performance incentives and mobile phone allowance.

The pilots’ association said this is a violation of women pilots’ right to equality and dignity. “The same is also insulting to a woman pilot and almost makes out pregnancy as if it is a stigma or a negative marker which makes the said woman pilot ‘unfit’ or ‘not qualified or entitled’ to discharge her duties ably, shoulder to shoulder with her male counterparts,” the letter added.

Citing a Delhi high court verdict, the association said that any form of pregnancy-related discrimination against expecting women professionals is violative of their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution and is thus, entirely non-permissible by law.

Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (“Act”) governs the conditions of service of women employees on maternity leave. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 provides for the rights of pregnant employees and attempts to ensure that such employees do not have to face any kind of discrimination during their pregnancy.

An Air India spokesperson said that Air India won’t comment on such internal matters.

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