Report by KEC correspondent
On October 5, the Air India (AI) management had told over 7000 staff members to submit an undertaking by October 20 that they will vacate quarters in six months post privatisation. Air India has huge colonies in Mumbai and Delhi, housing staff from various erstwhile AI companies. Both these colonies are located in very prime locations and each piece of the land they occupy is worth thousands of crores. On October 8 the selloff of AI to Tatas was announced. Immediately after the announcement the AI management started arm twisting the staff in various ways to sign the undertaking. It has been reported that the staff was even threatened that their provident fund account will be withheld if they do not sign the undertaking. Various unions of AI staff urged their members to not submit the undertaking under pressure.
A joint action committee of AI unions served a notice of strike from November 2 against the decision to get the quarters vacated. This has been reported on our AIFAP website earlier. In their strike notice, unions said that colonies are on land leased in perpetuity by Airport Authority of India (AAI) to Air India (AI). Mumbai airport is thus a tenant, and hence there is no reason for AI to vacate the colonies in a hurry and hand over the land to Mumbai airport. After receiving the strike notice the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner fixed a meeting between both the parties for October 27. Seeing the resolve of the unions, the government has extended the deadline for submission of undertaking.
Does this mean that the threat hanging over their heads is over? No, maybe not. But one thing is for sure that the Government had to take a step back because of the resolve displayed by the joint action committee of AI unions! This once again highlights that the only way to repulse attacks on workers is by uniting and resolutely fighting against them.