Saturday, September 8, 2012

Opinion- Time for some serious thinking, Mr Aviation Minister

Neelam Mathews
Sept 8, 2012

Even as the proposal for two subsidiary units for Air India—Air India Engineering Services and Air India Transport- one for engineering and another other for ground handling, has been cleared by the Cabinet, we might just be entering into the realm of a known subject- strikes.

About 40 percent of Air India employees (12,000) will  be transferred to Air India Transport with an authorised capital of Rs 1,000 crore. One isn’t sure about the engineering unit. What is clear is that this will not go down well with the erstwhile Indian Airlines engineering team who have time and again said they have been given a step motherly treatment after the merger.

Air India management has turned a blind eye and deaf ears to this issue. Nothing has been done for five years since the merger to address the insecurities  of engineers (nor pilots) as “technical issues are still to be sorted out". Concerns relate to salary scales, allowances and career progression. Hopefully, the minister of civil aviation will lend a patient ear instead of shutting Air India down again- much to the delight of its competitors that can already hear their cash registers ringing.

A few months ago, an engineer voicing his discomfort, told me: “They want to take away our jobs.” There is obviously lack of communication and no will to spend some time and explain jobs will be secure. 

In order to rationalize manpower for achieving optimum utilization and as a part of Turn Around Plan, Air India has approved a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for all permanent and confirmed employees of the Company. The problem with the VRS is, while people do leave, it is the quality people who can walk into jobs, leaving the dregs, so to speak, barring a few committed folk. In the case of Air India’s employees holding licences/approval from DGCA as part of their job requirements like aircraft engineers, pilot, simulator maintenance engineers, approved flight dispatchers, service engineers are not eligible for VRS.

So, if this lot are indispensable, why not hear them out? You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Pix - Airstrikes
Video from 2010- The issues remain..........

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