Pilots’ body issues notice to Air India over change in service conditions

Indian Commercial Pilot Association (ICPA) on Wednesday issued a demand notice regarding Industrial Disputes Act in respect of change in conditions of service of pilots of Air India engaged in scheduled air transport operations.

The pilots’ associations have written multiple letters to the Air India management in the last couple of weeks and sources said that they are planning to go on strike if the demands are not met.

“In the event, we do not receive a suitable response from the management in respect of the subject-matter of this demand notice, within a period of three days, the ICPA will be constrained to seek appropriate remedies in accordance with applicable law,” said the ICPA in its letter.

The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association is a registered trade union of the pilots of Air India. The letter written on Wednesday has been addressed to S.D. Tripathi, chief human resource officer, Air India.

ICPA has demanded the Air India management to comply with the statutory mandate of the Industrial Disputes (ID) Act, including Section 9A, in letter and in spirit; and not undertake any change in the conditions of service of pilots without following the applicable provisions of the ID Act, including Section 9A, and without consulting the pilots and giving adequate notice thereof.

The demands also include, “Until such time, the mandate of section 9A, Industrial Disputes Act is followed, maintain status quo in respect of inter alia Passages, Career Progression Policy and other such conditions of service of pilots; and follow the above-mentioned roster practices (entered into between the management and the ICPA), in letter and spirit and without creating an artificial distinction between permanent/regular pilots and FTC (fixed term contract) pilots, while no such distinction was contemplated at the time of signing of and within the said practices therein.”

ICPA had previously issued the demand letter/notice on October 24, 2022 to the management of Air India, in respect of change in conditions of service of its member pilots.

“However, since there was no response whatsoever to the said notice, ICPA is compelled to issue the present Demand Notice as well to the management of Air India, in the hope that the voices of its member pilots who have been with the airlines through thick and thin, will reach the ears of the management,” ICPA said.

“We demand to be involved, as representatives of the pilots, in deliberations regarding any change in conditions of service before any precipitative steps are taken,” said the demand notice issued on Wednesday.

ICPA said that it is important for the morale of the pilots and for maintenance of trust between the pilots and the management of Air India, especially given the transition to the new management, that pilots be consulted and taken into confidence before any condition of their service is changed, especially when such change may ultimately prove to be to their detriment.

ICPA also referred to rules and ACT saying that ‘Pilots’ are classified as ‘workmen’ for the purposes of various labour laws in India, including the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 (ID Act).

“Section 9-A of the ID Act read with the Fourth Schedule of the ID Act mandates that an employer give due notice (as prescribed) before effecting any change in the conditions of service, such as wages, allowances, concessions and privileges, of any workman,” it said.

On the recent advertisement by the airline inviting applications for ‘Captain A320 Fleet – on an FTC basis’, the ICPA said, “It is the apprehension of the ICPA that such ‘across the board’ hiring by the management may result in an anomalous situation wherein a pilot with lesser years of experience and expertise may end up attaining seniority over a pilot who in fact, has higher experience and expertise.”

20221221-170403

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