With the government firm on wanting to privatise debt-ridden Air India, it is facing opposition tfrom employees over the fear of losing their jobs. The government had made its intentions very clear quite some time back that it wants to get out of running the airline, but has been facing difficulty in finding a buyer. The speech by the Finance Minister as part of her budget presentation in the Parliament last week, however, did not leave anyone in doubt about the intentions of the government. There has been no specific budgetary provision made for the carrier either.
As a follow up to this, Air India Chairman called in the representatives of the employee unions, all 13 of them for a discussion. As expected, the unions promptly rejected the governmentâ€™s proposal to sell the airline to the private sector. The unions appear to have told the management that they are willing to offer their support to keep the airline running in the public sector and to turn it around.
Air India unions that were represented at that meeting are the Air Corporation Employees Union, Air India Employees Union, Indian Airlines Technicians Association, All-India Aircraft Engineers Association, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, Indian Pilots Guild, Air India Aircraft Engineers Association, Air India Cabin Crew Association, Air India Engineers Association, Aviation Industry Employees Guild, All-India Service Engineers Association and the United Air India Officers Association.
The unions are trying to convey to the management and the government that the private airlines in India have not fared so well and one has to only take a look at the way Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways ended up. There have been other airlines that shut down their operations in the country in the past 5 years alone.
It remains to be seen how the Modi government will approach the Air India privatization issue with the employee unions opposing it outright.