Air India Casual Workers Union (AICWU) held a consultative meeting to intensify their agitation at the gate of Air India Cargo office at Meenambakkam Airport, Chennai on 21st of January, 2012. Union leaders and activists spoke with anger about their conditions in the work place and the indifferent attitude of the management to these conditions. They elaborated the steps taken by the workers and their union to bring the attention of the management to resolve the workers problems.
The Union has asked for various information pertaining to their work conditions to the management under Right to Information act. But they have not received any response. Although Air India is one organization, there are different sets of rules guiding the wages and working conditions of the workers of the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines, although they perform the same work under one roof. This was brought to stark focus by the agitation of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association in 2011. In the case of Casual workers, erstwhile Air India workers are provided with 365 days of work in a year whereas erstwhile Indian Airlines workers are given only 210 days, thus splitting their unity. Workers have also represented their problems to the Justice Dharmadhikari committee which was allegedly set up to resolve all these anomalies between workers within the organization.
Earlier, activists of AICWU had met GM-Personnel in the first week of December, 2011 to discussed their concerns and present their demands. But management has not acted on these demands. Management is also escalating their attacks on the workers. Violating all norms of well established security procedures, management recently has started collecting back the Airport Entry passes of the workers when workers leave their work premises. Although management has agreed to provide 210 days of work in a year, often it refuses work for those reporting to work on the pretext that they do not have work, while resorting to contracting out the work. Management also refuses to meet union activists to resolve these issues and grievances of workers. An organization set up by the taxes paid by Indian people is acting much worse than any private corporations and behaving as an unscrupulous fly by night operator. The management of this "public sector" Air India is trying to sabotage the organization and its normal working from within. They are doing this by demoralizing Pilots, Cabin crew, Maintenance staff and Casual workers, by various means. This is a crime not only against the workers and staff of Air India, but also against the entire nation and its people, activists pointed out.
While on one hand the civil aviation ministry and the CMDs are working overtime to loot and bankrupt Air India as a prelude to privatizing it, on the other hand, management and the ministers say that they do not have enough money to run the Airlines even to pay salary to its staff and workers! Activists pointed out how the management has been systematically working to make Air India run into losses, how they have been gifting off the valuable assets of Air India to private companies and loot its treasury. Union leaders also pointed out that the top management is working under the directions of the big capitalists such as Tata, Jet Airways, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa to privatize Air India and sell it them cheap. They pointed out that the entire work force of Air India are united in opposing the criminal plans of the government and the capitalists to privatize Air India.
Casual workers reiterated their long standing demands for permanency of jobs and all rights as full time workers. Workers have decided to intensify their agitation and protest in front of their office gate in the Airport on 15th of February. Union will mobilize support from all workers and other trade unions of Air India for their agitation. Workers will not rest till all their demands are met.