Employees, modernisation and its perils

Measures to infuse professionalism and increase profitability in government-run organisations often leads to downsizing employees or reduction in pay by hiring people on contract, a Parliamentary panel has said.

These remarks were part of a report tabled by Committee of Petitions in Parliament early March while dealing with a complaint from Alliance Air Employee’s Union (AAEU) seeking equal benefits with those of Air India and Air India Express.

The report noted that the government is using different methodologies to “justify the decisions taken by the government in the context of changing business environment and for the introduction of growth acceleration techniques”.

The methodologies, it said, for “infusing professionalism and increasing profitability” that were adopted in the “last two decades” included long-term agreements, bilateral/trilateral Memoranda of Understanding, Turn Around Plans, Note on Operalisation, re-delivery processes and replacement exercise.

“However, all these policy formulations often tend to either the retrenchment of employees or reduction in their pay, allowances and other amenities by hiring them on contractual basis,” the panel headed by BJP MP B S Koshiyari said.

In his complaint, AAEU General Secretary Amit Roy claimed that there was disparity in pay and allowances of employees of Alliance Air with its parent company Air India and another subsidiary Air India Express.

The panel termed it “unfortunate” that the fate of Alliance Air employees remain unchanged though Air India rationalised the pay structures and regularised the services of contractual employees of Air India Express. All employees of Alliance Air are working on contract.

The Petitions Committee considered the issue in 2009 also and recommended that the concerns be addressed. “It is unfortunate that even after a lapse of more than six years, no tangible improvement in the service conditions of the employees of Alliance Air has been noticed,” the Koshiyari-headed panel said.

“The employees are still languishing for want of parity in pay and allowances and other service conditions vis-à-vis the parent company,” it said.

Alliance Air, which caters to the aviation needs of tier-2 and tier-3 cities like and flies around 1,100 per day, has incurred losses during the past ten years ranging between Rs 29.12 crore to Rs 249.4 crore.

The Civil Aviaition Ministry has said that Air India Express and Alliance Air could not be compared, as it has different organisational structures and functions, an argument rejected by the committee.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 26, 2016)

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