Eight employee unions of Air India have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising serious concerns about the disinvestment of the national carrier and have sought an alternative revival plan. In a letter, signed by representatives of the eight unions, they have also flagged possibility of job losses in case of privatisation.
Air Corporation Employees Union, All India Service Engineers Association, Air India Employees Union, Aviation Industry Employee Guild, Air India Aircraft Engineers Association, All India Aircraft Engineers Association, Air India Engineers Association and United Air India Officers Association have written the letter.
Together, these unions represent more than 10,000 Air India employees. The Civil Aviation Ministry has sought Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential bidders for a 76 per cent stake sale in loss-making Air India as well as divestment of two of the carriers subsidiaries.
"We strongly protest Government of Indias move to privatise or disinvest Air India/subsidiaries as it is against the interest of the country and urge the government to review its decision... and explore the possibility of an alternative to disinvestment/ privatisation," it said.
According to the letter, the unions said Air India can be restored to its "pristine glory" if debt worth Rs 30,000 crore is waived off or the loan is restructured and a proper roadmap is put in place with effective management. Referring to the previous NDA governments decision to sell two Centaur Hotels properties in Mumbai, the letter said there have been job losses after it.
"In our view, privatisation of Air India should be completely avoided with an effective revival plan with the participation of employees. It is also urged to write off/ restructure the loan for Air India revival instead of giving benefit to any private entity," the letter, dated April 3, said.
Among others, the unions noted that the airline has never defaulted on interest repayments. On Wednesday, Air India CMD Pradeep Singh Kharola held a meeting with representatives of four employees unions to discuss about the strategic disinvestment and their concerns, sources had said.
Representatives from Indian Aircraft Technicians Association, Air India Aircraft Engineering Association, Air Corporation Employees Union and Air India Employees Union had attended the meeting.
On March 28, the ministry came out with the preliminary information memorandum on Air Indias strategic disinvestment. As per the memorandum, the government plans to offload 76 per cent equity share capital of the national carrier as well as transfer the management control.
The proposed transaction would involve Air India, its low-cost arm Air India Express and Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt Ltd, which is an equal joint venture between the national airline and Singapore-based SATS Ltd.