The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) has written to the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India for settling all outstanding dues with employees pre hand-over.
The IPG said this is a reminder of the company’s obligation to justly settle the already promised dues. At this critical juncture where the international skies have opened up and the domestic demand is steadily rising due to the festive season, the pilots are once again being stretched beyond capacity to cover additional flights.
“We trust that you will ensure that the process of settling arrears is righteously carried out so as to not leave the employees feeling cheated. We are truly optimistic about making a fresh start with our new owners. We urge you not to exploit us employees whilst settling our arrears as that would probably lead to mass protest and industrial unrest just as the company changes hands,” the IPG said.
The 2006 Wage Agreement allocated a monthly Layover Subsistence Allowance (LSA) for Captains and Co-Pilots. Over the years, 25 per cent of these amounts were held back and are still due. By definition, LSA was an allowance provided to sustain one’s self on international layovers where the cost of living is exponentially higher. Pilots would spend from their own pockets on international layovers because these sums of money were not rightfully paid on time. The reimbursement of these foreign currency expenses that have been incurred for so many years is long overdue, IPG said in the letter.
The arrears arising out of the 25 per cent cut on Layover Sustenance Allowance is due to our members, IPG said. So naturally, when these arrears are settled there should be no question of any tax burden on the pilots. Let us remind you that this is a reimbursement of our expenses at foreign stations which have already been incurred. Under no circumstances should these arrears be considered a form of income. It is most necessary that the books of accounts reflect the same and a suitable method of disbursement be devised so as to avoid any query from the Indian regulatory authorities, IPG said.
IPG said it is prudent to mention that overtime payments arising out of the 2006 wage agreement are long overdue as well.
The company has long been aware of the liability due to employees as well as the Govt’s commitment to settling these dues. There is a need for transparency concerning the said matter. Factoring in the vital points raised above, we immediately seek a detailed statement with a working calculation of dues pending for each of our members.
In 2012, a wrongful and unilateral 25 per cent pay cut had been implemented on all employees. Whilst the management has acknowledged in writing that the money which was held back for several years should be rightfully returned to the employees, it would be a mockery to not properly compensate the employees with an appropriate rate of interest on the funds withheld. It has been over nine years since the first deduction and it would be highly unjust if the company were to have enjoyed interest-free finance at the expense of the employees.