Air India unions submit arguments opposing the planned eviction of employees in Bombay HC

Air India unions have moved the Bombay High Court to challenge the proposed eviction of employees from staff colonies in Mumbai.

The unions argue that the airline’s letter asking employees to vacate office accommodation by July 26 amounts to a change in service conditions. This, they said, is a violation of the Industrial Disputes Act.

It requires companies to issue a notice to union members before enacting changes in-service conditions. Currently, around 1,600 families are residing in AI staff quarters at Kalina in Mumbai.

Air India unions submit arguments opposing the planned eviction of employees in Bombay HC

Aggrieved by the management action, Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG), Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) and All India Service Engineers Association (AISEA) have filed separate writ petitions for quashing the airline’s October and May letters to staff.

“The allotment of accommodation is provided till retirement/cessation of service, according to the Air India allotment rules. There is no provision for any unilateral and arbitrary termination as is sought to be in the present case,” AIEG said in its petition.

Also, the service engineers have pointed out that the airline could not have issued a letter seeking vacation of flats pending the conclusion of conciliation proceedings. The conciliation eventually failed.

The allotment of accommodation is provided till retirement/cessation of service, according to the Air India allotment rules.

Last September, the civil aviation ministry issued certain directions to Air India on the issue of staff retaining office accommodation. In turn, the airline asked employees to give an undertaking that they would vacate their homes within six months of disinvestment.

The employees issued a strike notice against it and the matter was referred to the labour commissioner’s office for conciliation.

“How can the employees be evicted overnight during the monsoon just because of the privatisation of the airline? That is our plea,” said AIEG counsel Ashok Shetty.

In October 2021, the airline issued notices to 1200 Air India employees to give an undertaking that they would vacate their staff quarters in the Kalina area of Mumbai within six months of disinvestment.

ALSO READ – Air India employees plan to go to the Bombay HC to protest eviction from staff quarters

Employees took the call at a protest meeting on April 17 which was attended by Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar and NCP leader Vidya Chavan.

In October 2021, the airline issued notices to 1200 Air India employees to give an undertaking that they would vacate their staff quarters in the Kalina area of Mumbai within six months of disinvestment.

ALSO READ – Air India employees asked to vacate quarters

Air India’s land and other properties were transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle- Air India Asset Holdings Limited (AIAHL)

In May, India’s central government had asked Air India to remind its employees residing in Delhi’s Vasant Vihar and Mumbai’s Kalina areas to vacate the premises by July 26.

The decision had been taken even before Air India’s sale to the Tatas when the government decided that Air India’s land and colonies in these areas would have to be vacated within six months after the privatization process is complete.

Air India’s land and other properties were transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle- Air India Asset Holdings Limited (AIAHL) during the privatization discussion and were never a part of the deal with the Tatas.

(With Inputs from Business Standard)

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