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Shiv Sena demands end to walk-in interviews for Air India cabin crew

Staff Reporter

Mumbai: Demanding a stop to the ongoing walk-in interviews for Air India cabin crew in Delhi, the Shiv Sena on Thursday accused the airline management of adopting an anti-Marathi stance. A delegation of party MPs met Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi on behalf of the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, a trade union arm of the Sena, and presented a memorandum of demands.

“We demanded an immediate stop to the walk-ins, being held in Delhi, to fill 8,500 vacancies for cabin crew. These recruitments are being done on contract basis, which means the crew cannot form unions, join them or avail themselves of any privileges to which regular employees are entitled. The management is using the divide-and-rule policy [to break the strength of the unions]. Moreover, Air India operations are being shifted out of Mumbai. One unit was shifted to Kochi, another to Kolkata and other operations to Delhi. This policy is anti-Maharashtra and anti-Marathi. Air India was born in Mumbai and a major chunk of its employees is from here,” Shiv Sena MP Bharatkumar Raut told a press conference.

Sena MP Anandrao Adsul said there had been a deliberate conspiracy to weaken the airline company by handing lucrative routes over to private players.

“All the profitable routes were given to private airlines, as a result they made money and the national carrier ended up with losses. Why is it that despite the huge increase in passenger traffic, Air India is still running into losses,” Mr. Adsul asked.

‘Bid to wreck union'

The Sena alleged that the management was trying to wreck the employees' union, and that the plan to shift the company's base out of Mumbai was aimed at slackening the Sena's clout with the unions.

Sena spokesperson Anil Desai said that even as the employees were not paid wages on time, the company's chief operating officer (COO), expatriate Captain Gustav Baldauf, took home a pay-check running into crores of rupees.

Earlier, Mr. Ravi stressed the need to evolve a new methodology to improve the performance of the carrier. He said “a third party” might be roped in to decide the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines.

“We want to satisfy the employees. There is a difference of opinion between the employees of Air India and Indian Airlines and between the employees and the management on parity issues. Pay-scales and promotions have to be sorted out. We need time to resolve these issues. I want to carry everybody with me. Wage-cuts were never on my mind. The merger must take place, parity has to come about, but the question is how it is going to be done. It can also be done by a third party,” he said.

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