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Air India unions threaten to go on strike after government asked employees to vacate staff quarters

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A group of ground staff and engineers of Air India on Wednesday threatened to go on strike from November 2 over a government order asking them to vacate their staff quarters, the Business Standard reported.

A joint body of Air India employees’ unions said that the government has asked them to give an undertaking by October 15 that the staff would vacate their quarters within six months after the sale of the airline.

On October 8, Tata Sons won the bid to acquire debt-ridden national airline Air India for Rs 18,000 crore. The government had said that Tata Sons will retain all Air India employees for a year.

In a letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Air India Joint Action Forum of Unions pointed this out.

“We urge you to intercede on behalf of the Air Indians who reside in these colonies to allow them to reside in them for a reasonable period of at least a year…,” the joint body of unions said. “The colony facility should at least be co-terminus with that [employment] date.”

The unions added that the decision to ask employees to vacate homes while in service amounted to “unilateral change of service conditions and is a violation of labour law”. They said that “displacement” of employees nearing their retirement will “virtually bring them on the streets as they will be unable to afford buying or renting other homes.”

The Air Joint Action Forum of Unions comprises Air Corporation Employees Union, Aviation Industry Employees Guild and All India Service Engineers Association.

The unions have also demanded that the government should clear the employees’ pending dues before asking them to leave the staff quarters. They demanded that the government encash the employees’ leaves or carry them forward when Tata Sons take over the airlines.

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