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The top management of Air India has cleared a proposal to rationalise the number of employees’ unions in the company to five from 15, a senior airline official told FE.
The move is expected to bring in efficiencies with respect to addressing human resource-related issues within
the airline and facilitate quicker decision-making.
Under the proposal, Air India will have two unions — first for pilots and second for other workers, such as cabin crew and ticketing staff. Air India Engineering Services (AIESL), a subsidiary of Air India, will be allowed to have two unions and the airline's ground handling unit, Air India Air Transport Services(AIATSL), has been allocated a single union by the management, the official said on the condition of anonymity.
“The proposal has been cleared by the management and the process to make these uniond recognised by the company is on,” the official said.
However, several human resources-related issues that date back to the merger of the erstwhile Indian Airlines with Air India in 2007 need to be addressed before the creation of the new unions, the official added. He said the company was holding discussions with employees on modalities such as the eligibility criteria for the recognition of existing unions. Merging some entities to create a larger union, or establishing a new association, is also a possibility.
At present, Air India has about 15 recognised and unrecognised unions including employees’ unions of Air India’s wide-bodied aircraft operations (that mostly fly internationally) and the erstwhile Indian Airlines’ narrow-bodied aircraft operations (that flew domestically).
Indian Airlines was merged with Air India in 2007.
A four-member committee constituted by the airline's board of directors in December 2013 to chalk out a plan for cutting down the number of recognised unions had earlier submitted two sets of recommendations.
One of the suggestions was to have three unions — one each for Air India, AIESL, and AIATSL. The second suggestion, which has finally been accepted, was to have the five unions as described above.
A certain section of the senior management favoured a third alternative to have just two unions — one for pilots and another for the rest of the employees. This was severely criticised by the existing union.
“The management decided to have a separate union for pilots since there are several practical difficulties if pilots and other workmen were to be part of one group,” the senior Air India official said.