Air India has extended the deadline for its controversial Leave Without Pay (LWP) scheme, which has been drawing strong protests from pilots and cabin crew.
In a circular issued on Thursday, Air India said that the scheme was introduced on July 14 and it “has now been decide to extend the last date of applying under the scheme till September 30, 2020”.
The scheme was circulated on July 14 and the pilots have been protesting that it “confers disproportionate powers” on the Chairman and Managing Director to pass an order requiring an employee to go on a compulsory leave without pay for a period of six months or for two years, and extendable upto five years.
Airline employees, across the board from pilots to service engineers, are protesting pay cuts and the LWP scheme in Air India. The company is also on the block for privatisation.
Air India has justified the cut in allowances of existing employees by citing the precarious financial position due to Covid-19.
“By ‘rationalising’ the allowances only, pilots and cabin crew are hit worst as it forms 80 per cent of our gross pay. Doesn’t the difficult financial condition of the airline warrant a contribution from the management too, based on their actual cost to company or just flying crew alone?” the pilots said in the letter.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) have accused Air India of spreading “deliberate misinformation on social media” and questioned the “duplicitous” and “misleading” tweets by Air India.
“Air India has recently posted some duplicitous tweets that are misleading the general public,” the pilots’ associations said.
In a recent tweet, Air India said: “Recent decisions of Air India Board regarding rationalization of staff cost were reviewed in a meeting at @MoCA_goi this evening. The
meeting reiterated that unlike other carriers which have laid off large number of their employees, no employee of Air India will be laid off.”
To this, the pilots responded: “A lay off means settlement of arrears, gratuity, PF and retrenchment compensation by law. Management is trying to dodge this by introducing Compulsory Leave without Pay for up to 5 years to send employees on exile.”