Casual workers of erstwhile Indian Airlines are continued as casual workers in the merged entity of Air India. In Air India – Indian Airlines, over 400 workers have been working as Casual and Temporary workers for many decades. These workers who are Class-4 employees work as Commercial Helpers and Drivers.
They together with other permanent workers, perform many useful functions for services of Air India. Commercial Helpers work in Engineering maintenance, Ground support Department, Customs, Administration and other departments of Air India. They also perform loading and unloading of luggages of passengers, cargo handling, cleaning of the aircrafts, movement of airplanes on the tarmac, etc. in day and night shifts round the clock. Drivers drive the passenger and cargo vehicles around the runways and surrounding roads following the strict rules and discipline. Till recently, they also used to provide transport for the cabin crew members in a safe and reliable manner. Thus all the Casual workers of Air India follow various strict safety and security rules and regulations to ensure the Air India flights are safe, comfortable as well as operated on time. Their services are also deployed for many private airlines such as Emirates, Lufthansa Cargo, etc by the Air India management.
Air India management has been keeping these workers who play such responsible function as casual workers for the last 20-30 years. Hence many of these workers have remained as casuals without any continuity of services for the last 25-30 years. To avoid making them permanent, management does not permit any one to work over 6 months in a year. Once workers complete 6 months of work in a year, they are sent out on a compulsory break and they are allowed to resume work only after 6 months. These casual workers are paid a pittance for each day of their hard labour. They do not receive any DA or any other allowances. Even Over time payment is given on equal basis as regular work and not twice as per labour laws. They do not receive any additional night time or Early morning allowances, paid to the permanent workers. When the casual workers are forced to work beyond one shift, they are not provided with the 11 hour break before they can resume their next duty. They are not provided with the Provident fund. Not provided with the necessary uniforms, safety boots, ear plugs and other job necessities by the management. Casual workers are forced to buy them out of their own resources. They do not enjoy any holidays, leaves, medical facilities nor medical insurance. Workers who dies or maimed in accidents while working are not provided with any compensation or medical treatment.
By retaining them as Casual workers and by cutting down the work to outsource them or carry them out by using contract labour, top management is looting crores of rupees by way of corruption. Management is also actively trying to outsource the work to Singapore Airline Terminal Services company as they have done at Bangalore and Hyderabad. All their efforts are also leading to deterioration of the quality of services and endangers the security of operations besides adding the cost to consumers. These anti worker activities of the management are part of the efforts of the Aviation ministry and its directors to liquidate Air India and privatization of all its services.
In sum, the casual workers of Air India are not even treated as simple human being of this century. It will be very difficult to find any difference between the way slaves were treated during the dark ages in history and the way ‘public sector company’ Air India treats these workers today in 21st century! The tasks performed by these casual workers are very much required and are permanent in nature. In spite of it, Air India management has been looting and barbarically exploiting these workers and treats them as casual workers against the tenets of basic labour laws of our country.
On the other hand, Air India’s past CMD Arvind Jadhav and past Aviation minister Praful Patel have looted thousands of crores of rupees of Air India in various ways and saddled it today with a cumulative loss of 60,000 Crores. Air India’s management has given up 32 of its most profitable routes for the benefit of foreign airlines such as Lufthansa, Air Arabia and domestic private airlines such as Jet Airways and King Fisher. Besides they have also systematically given up the best operational timing to the advantage of Indian private air lines. When Air India needed only 24 aircrafts, Praful Patel and Arvind Jadhav have ordered 68 Boeing 777 and 787 aircrafts. This deal has saved Boeing, the aircraft manufacturing American company from sinking, but sunk Air India as a loss making company. They also given 127 acres of Air India’s prime land in Kalina in Mumbai worth 65,000 Crore Rupees to the private company MIAL and prime lands of Air India in Delhi worth 35,000 Crore rupees to the private company DIAL, both free of cost! Thus they have made Air India bankrupt by their corrupt and criminal deeds. Air India-Indian Airlines which was built and run by the Indian people’s tax money is being looted and plundered by big capitalists, ministers and by its own executive directors! At the same time, this ‘public sector company’ run by the Indian people’s money, brutally exploits and loots all sections of workers who work with them and denies them even just and basic labour rights. Denying permanency of job for these casual workers for decades together and not granting them all the legitimate rights is part of the attacks Air India carries out on the workers.
Casual workers of Air India and Indian Airlines have been fighting these anti-worker policies and activities of their management for many years. These casual workers met in the first week of September and taken a firm decision to further strengthen their unity and their Union and fight till all their demands are met and rights are won. Makkalatchi Iyakkam (Lokraj Sangathan) fully supports these Air India workers to win all their just demands.