As part of the ongoing process of disinvesting its 100% holding in Air India, the government at the centre has been trying to get the trade unions in the airline on its side so that the prospective buyer of the airline is not scared off trying to manage the unions. The union representatives have been called for meetings with the Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Puri himself. In his first such meeting, Puri had tried convincing the employee unions that the only way for the government was 100% disinvestment and the unions have to recognise this reality. The next meeting is to be held on Monday, January 20, 2020.
It is now understood that the employee unions may want to discuss with the minister the VRS package that the government will be ready to offer before handing over control of the airline to the buyer. On the manpower front, the assurance to the employees from the government earlier was that there will be no sackings or staff-reduction post disinvestment. The employees feel this kind of an assurance will be time-bound and may be for one year from the date the takeover happens. The employees may be feeling that the government may agree to a more liberal VRS package than a private employer. Sources have indicated that more than the leaders, the members of the unions appear to have pushed this point to the fore, fearing they would in any case lose their jobs. There are 11,000 employees, very high for an airline of Air Indiaâ€™s size and operational capacity. The airline is bleeding around â‚¹20-â‚¹25 crore each day.
There are over a dozen trade unions in Air India. Some of them are recognised and others not so.
The government is moving ahead on the disinvestment route. A ministerial panel has been formed, headed by the Home Minister Amit Shah. The draft terms of the Expression of Interest document have been vetted by this group of ministers (GoM).