Demanding better pay package and medical benefits, nearly 300 contractual security and commercial workers of Air India boycotted work on Monday and staged a demonstration at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
"We have been working for past five years but we are being paid meagrely. Also we have been denied any facility like medical insurance and provident fund which are provided even to the lower level employees of a private company," said Jit Singh, chairman of the Indian Airlines Limited -Airport Services Limited (IAL-ASL) Employees Union.
He claimed that contractual workers at Amritsar, Jaipur and other airports were were also on strike since Sunday afternoon.
The Air India management, however, said there was no impact on its flights.
They said that they have been in talks with agitating employees. The airlines claimed that all of their demands were met as officials at the airport have been asked to provide medical facilities to these contractual workers, if they require, except in cases of 'hospitalisation'.
The airline is planning to take stern action against the agitating employees and may even terminate their contract, a senior official said.
The workers, many of whom joined in 2004, claimed they felt cheated as they were unaware about who their employer is.
"The advertisements were published in 2004 by erstwhile Indian Airlines. Even our tests and interviews were conducted by them, but when we got our appointment letter, it was mentioned that we would be working for its subsidiary Alliance Air," Singh alleged.
The employees also claimed that they were meted out step-motherly treatment by the airline's permanent staff.
"We are asked to work over time but we are not provided drop facilities, and it is the same with the female employees too," alleged an employee who did not wish to be named.
There are about 200 security staff who have the responsibility of checking the aircraft, baggages and also keep a vigil on the aircraft and areas surrounding it so that no one make an unauthorised entry.
They also handle baggage of several international airlines like Malaysian Airlines, Sri Lankan airlines, Pakistan International Airlines, Air Arabia and Ariana Afghan, "earning good profit for the airlines", Singh claimed.
"Despite this, we are being paid just Rs 7,600 to Rs 9,000 without any other facilities and that too, when we are graduate and some are NCC 'C' Certificate holder," said Singh.
A senior airline's official dealing with the issue, said that their demand of salary hike has been sent to the head office in Mumbai.