Equal Pay for AI-IA Starting August

Friday, 29th June 2012 at 03:26am

Ajit Singh, the Indian Aviation Minister, has revealed that the government will start the implementation of the Dharmadhikari committee's report in 45 days with the hope of resolving issues which resulted to labor unrest that affected greatly the operation of the flag carrier since 2007 when the two state-owned airlines merged.

The wage of its employees will be adjusted to make the airline in black again but still providing them enough as mandated by law. The pilots, for example, will get a pay that conforms to industry standards. However, the performance-linked incentive (PLI) that pilots have been enjoying for years will no longer be given to them but they will still receive part of it via their basic pay adjustment. With this cost-saving measure, the government is expecting, within the first year, to save Rs 250 crore from the yearly wage bill of Rs 3,200 crore.

Pilots in Indian airlines are some of the world's highest paid, receiving a monthly salary of no less than Rs 8 lakh. Once the implementation of Dharmadhikari committee's report take effect, the amount will be substantially reduced. The pilots on strike, who are all members of the Indian Pilot's Guild (IPG), alleged that the report is specifically designed to satisfy the whims of the former employees of the now-defunct Indian Airlines (IA). They deemed the report as nothing but a tool to propagate injustice to the pilots and the rest of the employees of pre-merger Air India. As a result, all the pilots' net pay would see a substantial cut after the implementation.

Mr Singh said that integration of HR is inevitable in order for the airline to survive, thus saving thousands of jobs, instead of giving in to the demand of a few pilots. The airline received from the government Rs 30,000 as financial infusion. However, he reiterated that the government will no longer give financial assistance to the troubled flag carrier in the future. A panel was specially created under Nasir Ali, the ministry director, to map out salary grades of all employees from all levels or departments. It is tasked to submit reports to the cabinet for approval whether the salary of skilled staff including pilots, engineers, as well as cabin crew shall be based on the standards of department of public enterprises (DPE) or the prevailing industry standards.

The cut-off set for the new salary standardization is April 1, 2007, as per recommendation in the Dharmadhikari committee's report. In each level, employees shall be grouped together to be governed by a unified policy regarding the working hours, facility of passage among others, according to Mr. Singh. Until then, the usual practice of engineers, cabin crew and pilots from pre-merger AI and IA as to their work preference on a particular type of aircraft, be it a Boeing or Airbus, shall now be a history. It said, however, that the management will honor the seniority of pilots based on the length of their service handling certain type of aircraft.

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