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AIESL union threatens strike on April 23 over salary, promotion issues

New service agreement unfairly treats permanent vs FTE staff with disparity in notice period and benefits

Air India

Deepak Patel New Delhi

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The employee union at AI Engineering Services Limited (AIESL), India’s largest aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO) company, issued a strike threat on April 23. Their concerns are primarily around the lack of promotions, low wages, and stringent conditions in the new service agreement.

This signals a recurrence of discontent among AIESL employees, reminiscent of the strike in March 2022 when almost 1,700 staff walked out, causing disruptions to Air India’s flights, which depend on its services.

The government had sold Air India to the Tata Group in October 2021. However, Air India’s three subsidiaries – AIESL, AI Airport Services Limited (AIASL), and regional airline Alliance Air – were not part of the deal. Air India had in 2022 shown interest in buying AIESL.

The All India Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Union (AIAMEU), in a letter to AIESL management on April 8, stated that no promotions have been awarded during the past seven years to aircraft technicians, which has led to widespread demoralisation among them.

“The recent forced implementation of a new service level agreement (SLA) has exposed clear discrimination between permanent and FTE (full-time equivalent) staff, with a glaring disparity in notice period and benefits,” the union said.

The abrupt change in the notice period from one month to three months for technicians and six months for certifying staff has created “confusion, rage, and anger” among employees, it said.

In March last year, then Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal said that the government would “very soon” issue the expression of interest for AIESL, and its disinvestment is expected to be over “in a couple of months”. However, AIESL has not been privatised till now. 

In its letter, AIAMEU mentioned a promise made in front of the Assistant Labour Commissioner to revise the salaries of technicians with 2-3 years of service. However, these revisions are still pending.

“We urge you to engage in constructive dialogue and take immediate steps to address our grievances in good faith to avert the impending disruption to operations. Failure to do so will leave us with no choice but to proceed with the strike action (on April 23, 2024) as planned,” it added.

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First Published: Apr 09 2024 | 7:58 PM IST

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