After the capture of Air India by Tata group, which was a government airline, now the difficulties of the employees have deteriorated further. Tata Group has started reducing the salary of Air India employees, which is an act of grave injustice.
This deduction is being made in the form of extorting house rent from the salaries of the employees living in Air India Colony and there is a lot of resentment caused in the employees union regarding this.
On Sunday, employees living in Old Air India Colony in Mumbai protested by taking out a march.
Employees of the Old Air India Colony, located in Kaleen, Santacruz East, Mumbai, have formed the Save Air India Colony Committee and have taken the issue to the court.
It is noteworthy that the Modi government has sold Air India to Tata Group. The employees say that the residential colonies have not yet been purchased by any private company, so there is no justification for imposing the cuts.
Air India employees along with their families staged a protest march in the colony on Sunday (January 22). The employees demand that this arbitrary action of the management should be halted immediately.
At the same time, Tata Group, the new owner of Air India, has started deducting the rent of the house from the salary of the employees.
Members of the Air Corporation Employees Union (ACAU) say that Air India has been purchased by the Tata Group recently, but that grants them no legal right to deduct rent from the salaries of Air India employees for living in the colonies.
The ownership of five colonies, including the Shantacruz area of Mumbai, is not owned by the Tata group but by the holding company of Air India, which is yet to be sold to a private company.
Union members say that the question is, how can Tata deduct the salary of the employees for living in these houses? Even notice was not given in this regard and salary cut started from October itself.
People taking part in the march said that salary was cut in December; salary was cut on New Year which is completely illegal.
Another member said that there such skyrocketing inflation in cities like Mumbai and Delhi that employees can barely survive, with their low salaries. Salary of around 50 thousand or 60 thousand is nothing in terms of Mumbai.
According to him, the employees are not responsible for privatization, it has occurred because of the destructive policies of the government, which has victimised employees.
The officers and ministers who were blamed for the bad condition of Air India have not had any influence on them.
There was so much inquiry on Aviation Minister Praful Patel but still he is enjoying all the facilities, while the employees have no fault in this but they are being punished for it.
Provide alternative arrangements
Union members say that if the employees are fired without alternative arrangements, they will be turned homeless, and do not have an adequate house or pay expensive rent.
There are five colonies of Air India employees in Mumbai, in which families of about thousand employees reside.
The employees say that if they are displaced, they should be provided with alternative accommodation as their demand is not for a permanent home.
They say that the Supreme Court also ordered to make alternative arrangements in the Joshimath case of Uttarakhand. This is legally valid and should be the same in the case of employees.
It is noteworthy that these colonies belong to the Air India Holding Company.
A union leader enquired what the great hurry was. The answer was that they want to sell these colonies located in the Centre Place of Mumbai.
Preparation to sell valuable colonies to Adani!
He said that Adani is blessed by the Modi government and Modi government has also handed over Mumbai airport to him and Adani group is its overall in-charge, so it is necessary to hand over these valuable land located in most posh areas of Mumbai to Adani. If Adani buys the airport the employees will be flung on the streets and the Government of India will claim no responsibility for this.
The quarters of government employees come under the jurisdiction of the Public Premises Act. There is an estate manager employed for this purpose. If any action has to be taken, any decision to vacate or pay rent, then a legal process has to be undertaken, charge sheet has to be sent, notice has to be sent, and only then can any action be taken.
But what would they say in the charge sheet or even in the notice that you are living illegally, but the workers are living legally. No breach of conditions of residence.
Now these employees belong to Tata group, so Tata has no right to deduct the rent of these flats from the salary.
Employees assert that this is a violation of the pending case issued by the court. The employees have also filed a petition in the Mumbai High Court. At present, the next hearing of this matter is on January 25 in the Mumbai High Court.
We have to examine this issue in the perspective of effect of privatisation as a whole on Air India and the havoc caused by Tata group acquiring public institutions. It is part and parcel of the tyranny created by privatisation by the current government.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India