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Air India unions alleges Vistara pilots treated like ‘bonded labour’, threatened amid crisis

Earlier, Tata-owned airline Vistara has canceled several flights due to crew shortage and its pilots are protesting against the airline's decision to merge with Air India, wage revision and rostering issues.

By: Ruchi Upadhyay  Pardaphash Group
Air India unions alleges Vistara pilots treated like ‘bonded labour’, threatened amid crisis

New Delhi: Two unions of Air India have extended their support to the Vistara pilots’ strike over various issues, including pay revision. They alleged that pilots were being treated as “bonded labourers” and threatened by the HR with dire consequences.

Earlier, Vistara, a Tata-owned airline, has cancelled several flights due to a shortage of crew and its pilots have been protesting against the decision of the airline to merge with Air India, pay revision and rostering issues.

In a letter to Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran on Thursday, Air India’s Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPI) and the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) said issues pertaining to reduction in minimum guaranteed flying allowance to 40 hours, leave approval and roster malpractices extend to all Tata Group airlines. They also called for a dialogue with the Tata Group to resolve the issues.

Air India’s two unions said the issues faced by Vistara pilots are not isolated, but rather systemic issues across Tata Group aviation entities. Tata Group has four airline ventures — Air India, Air India Express, AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India) and Vistara.

“We believe that every pilot deserves to be valued, respected, and provided with the necessary support to excel in their profession. Pilots are being subjected to conditions and treatment reminiscent of bonded labourers,” the letter said.

The unions alleged that “there have been instances where the HR has resorted to threatening pilots with potential disruptions to their future, accompanied by severe consequences”.

They asserted that “such threats” can have serious consequences for the safety and efficiency of airlines’ operations.

“Pilots who feel threatened or intimidated may be reluctant to report safety concerns or speak up about issues that could impact flight operations. This poses a significant risk to the safety of our passengers and crew members and should not be taken lightly,” the unions said.

Stressing that pilots deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, the unions said it was “distressing” to witness instances where pilots were being exploited, overworked and deprived of their basic rights across Tata Group Airlines.

“Furthermore, we urge Tata Group leadership to engage in constructive dialogue with the pilot community, listen attentively to their feedback and take proactive measures to address their legitimate grievances,” it said.

“By addressing the concerns raised by the Vistara pilots, Tata Group can demonstrate its commitment to fostering a culture of fairness, transparency and employee welfare across all its aviation ventures, which is missing at the moment,” they further said.

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