Air India pilot unions IPG and ICPA on Monday sought Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri's intervention on the wage cut issue and also requested for an "urgent" meeting with him on several other issues.
"In our meetings in September, you had given us an assurance to look into our grievances positively.
“While other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October.
"This is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries," the pilot unions stated in the joint letter addressed to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
Lamenting that pilots of Air India and its two subsidiary airlines, Air India Express and Alliance Air, continue to get reduced wages, up to 70 per cent lower of their normal wages, it said.
"Through our representations and meetings, we have shown you how Air India management's cost cutting (move) is malafide and disproportionate and does not have any semblance to the aviation industry standards," according to the letter.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) represents the pilots flying Air India's narrow-body aircraft, while the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) represents those who operate wide-body aircraft of the national carrier.
Stating that even the parliamentarians' salaries have been "reduced by 30 per cent for a period of one year" to meet the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said that "even at the highest strata, there is a clear recognition of reasonable time-bound austerity measures across the board to compensate for the disruption due to the lockdown".
The whole situation is further turning grotesque, as the industry is firmly set on the road to recovery and austerity measures are being scaled back, the letter stated.
Also, pilots who test positive for COVID-19 need to undergo quarantine and hospitalisation.
This has to be followed by a no-objection certified, mandatory medical checks and DGCA approval.
The entire process to get back to flying takes more than a month, the IPG-ICPA said in the letter.
"Is it fair to deny these pilots their livelihood due to an occupational hazard? Is this how MoCA (ministry of civil aviation) wants to treat the workmen who are making the Vande Bharat Flights possible?," the letter said.
Alleging that the airline top management has let the pilots "down tremendously", the IPG-ICPA said, "Our pilots have expressed their displeasure and are extremely troubled by this unwarranted ordeal."
"We once again urge you to intervene immediately and put a stop to this victimisation. We, therefore, urgently request a follow up meeting with you," the letter stated.
Photograph: Regis Duvignau/Reuters