Air India's pilots union has reacted strongly to the management's proposal to reduce the salaries by about 15%, claiming it could lead to industrial unrest during the ongoing summer peak season.
The proposed action, the pilots claim will decrease their take-home total emolument by about 40%, as it has already been cut 25% in the last over two years.
Many members of Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), a union of erstwhile members of Air India, said the airline management's proposal just before the election is a mischief to create difficulties for the new government which is likely to privatise the national carrier.
"The industrial unrest directly upsets the functioning of the airline and therefore lowers its valuation; thereby making task of privatisation difficult for the new government," said a senior commander level pilot associated with IPG.
An Air India spokesperson said it is just a proposal and any decision on it will be taken only after holding meetings with the pilots and taking their views on it.
IPG members claim that the airline is coming with the new reduction, despite the Bombay HC order to maintain status quo of the service condition and find an amicable solution to the issue.
"The management's plan of further reduction will lead to exodus of pilots to rival airlines, which are already on a poaching spree," said another senior pilot.
"Further, the industrial unrest would have a drastic effect on the passengers who have booked their tickets during this summer season, if management goes ahead with the salary reduction plan," said the pilot.
The latest development brings back the memories of the days when over hundred pilots belonging to erstwhile Air India went on a strike for 58 days alleging disparities in career progression in comparison with the erstwhile Indian Airlines's pilots. The government reacted by suspending 101 striking pilots and banning IPG. The strike happened in the mid of summer season, in May, resulting in loss of over Rs 500 crore. The strike was the longest in the last 40 years, as per the aviation industry insiders, and ended after the intervention from the court.