Labour Commissioner Slams Tatas, Accuses Air India Express of Mismanagement

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The dispute began nearly a week ago when 300 senior cabin crew members of Air India Express reported sick at the last minute and switched off their cellphones. This unexpected action led to over 90 flights being cancelled, leaving many passengers stranded.
Labour Commissioner Slams Tatas, Accuses Air India Express of Mismanagement

In a significant development that has sent shockwaves through the aviation industry, the Regional Labour Commissioner has accused Air India Express of mismanagement. The accusation comes in the wake of a dispute between a section of Air India Express employees and the management that led to the cancellation of over 90 flights since Tuesday night.

 

The dispute began nearly a week ago when 300 senior cabin crew members of Air India Express reported sick at the last minute and switched off their cellphones. This unexpected action led to over 90 flights being cancelled, leaving many passengers stranded. The Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU) also wrote to the management and “highlighted a stark departure from commitments”. The TATA group, which took over the government-run airline in January 2022, has been at the center of this controversy.

 

Sources from Air India Express told NDTV that it does not recognize AIXEU or any other workers’ union as legitimate. This stance has further complicated the situation, as it leaves the protesting employees without a recognized platform to voice their grievances.

 

In a May 3 e-mail to Air India Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran and others—a copy of which is with NDTV—the Regional Labour Commissioner in New Delhi, Ashok Perumalla, pointed to “blatant violations of labour laws”. He stated that the concerns of the Union are genuine and criticized the management of Air India Express for not sending any responsible decision-makers to any of the conciliation proceedings.

 

Mr Perumulla did not mince words in his criticism of the airline’s HR department. He accused them of trying to mislead the conciliation officer with the wrong information and an “idiotic interpretation of legal provisions”. He suggested the constitution of a high-level committee to examine the grievances of the employees and the functioning of the HR department. He also called for corrective measures to be taken to maintain “harmonious industrial relations”.

 

The current dispute stems from a new merit-based assessment system for employees. The AIXEU has also accused the airline of mismanagement and a lack of equality in staff treatment. These accusations, if proven true, could have serious implications for the airline’s reputation and operations.

 

Air India Express, on its part, has stated that it does not recognize any workers’ union. It also said that attempts are being made to speak to the protesting crew members and break the deadlock. A spokesperson from the airline said, “A section of our cabin crew has reported sick at the last minute, starting last night, resulting in flight delays and cancellations. While we are engaging with the crew to understand the reasons behind these occurrences, our teams are actively addressing this issue to minimize any inconvenience caused to our guests as a result.”

 

The spokesperson added, “We sincerely apologize to our guests for this unexpected disruption and emphasize that this situation does not reflect the standard of service we strive to provide. Guests impacted by cancellations will be offered a full refund or complimentary rescheduling to another date.”

 

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by the aviation industry in managing employee relations. It underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between management and employees, and of addressing grievances in a timely and fair manner. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how Air India Express will navigate this crisis and what steps it will take to restore normalcy.

Stay tuned, to PropleManager.co.in for further updates on the evolving workplace paradigm.   

 

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