Amid lockdown, national carrier Air India has deducted 10 % salary of all employees in March, other than the cabin crew, leaving thousands of staffers in distress, National Herald has learned.
Documents and salary slips accessed by the NH show that the salary for the month of March — which was 10 % less than the previous salary — was transferred on Monday, April 20.
Terming the deduction as the “COVID-19 pay cut” the decision, however, was taken on March 17 by the CMD of the Air India, whereas the order in this regard was issued on March 20 — three days prior to the announcement of the nationwide lockdown.
The Air India had decided to implement a 10% cut in the allowances in a bid to tide over the stress arising out coronavirus epidemic.
“It was agreed to implement a 10% deduction in Allowances (excluding Basic pay, house rent allowance and Variable Dearness Allowance) in respect of all employees, except Cabin Crew, for a period of three months effective March 2020 salary” reads the order accessed by NH.
Angered by the deduction, employees have shot off a letter to the management on Monday, demanding the return of the deducted amount within two days. “In case, management fails to do so, we will seek legal remedy,” said an employee on condition of anonymity.
“…. You are called upon to pay the 10 % deducted amount within two days of receipt of this notice, failing which we shall be constrained to proceed legally,” reads the letter sent by the employees.
General Secretary of All India Service Engineers Association, Air India, N H Kapoor told National Herald that the management had communicated about the deduction, however, “we had an the impression that they will reconsider it as we had vehemently opposed the decision”.
“We were in shock. How can Air India deduct the salary in such a critical time? It is a violation of the PM Modi’s call also,” he said.
Citing industrial laws and an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, wherein the union government has asked all the employers under the Disaster Management Act to not cut the wages, the employees blamed Air India management for taking “arbitrary decision”.
Saying that the national carrier has not sought any consensus from any of the employees, a letter demanding the return of the salary, accessed by the NH reads, “Your order of 10 % deduction of allowances is utterly illegal and in the breach of the MOH order and the directive of the GOI, quite apart from being unlawful in industrial law including as per 9A of the Industrial Dispute Act – 1947. ”
Reacting to the development, leader of the CPI-backed All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Amarjeet Kaur termed the cut “unjustified” and said that this is one step forward towards the privatisation of the national carrier.
Talking to NH, Kaur said, “At a time when the cost of living is rising as unchecked hoarding of essential commodities is on and scarcity of certain goods is also adding to it, this is wrong. The Govt. is now forcing the Govt employees of all departments to pay one day salary every month till March 2021”.
“Why the PM does not ask his corporate friends for whose benefit he keeps changing Government policies to donate? Why the NPAs have not been recovered and why the tax evasion by the corporates has not been checked by the government?” questioned Kaur, adding, “Had Modi government not done all this, they would not have to beg for stheir salaries at this crucial time”.