Thursday, September 29, 2022

At AAI, employees pan India will agitate to oppose privatisation from Nov 20

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New Delhi: At a time when the spectre of privatisation looms large over the public sector, three employee unions and six associations at AAI (Airports Authority of India) have chalked out an agitation plan to oppose the move. While the government has indicated clearly that it is going to take up more airports for privatisation in the future, a source has claimed that the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is ready with the next bunch of airports and is looking to get a nod from the Cabinet by December first week.

In a notice served on November 14, the trade unions and employee associations have informed the AAI management of their agitation plan, while asserting that neither AAI nor the government has taken any cognisance of their concerns.

Agitation against privatisation of AAI airports

From November 20-22, the Joint Forum of Unions and Associations of AAI will hold a demonstration at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan in Delhi and at all airports and establishments of AAI. The employees will march from Jantar Mantar to Parliament on November 28.
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Another march will take place from Jantar Mantar to Parliament on December 5, followed by demonstrations on every Wednesday all across India. The notice also said that agitation may also lead to total strike.

Employees wrote a letter to AAI CMD before serving strike notice

In a letter addressed to the AAI CMD, dated November 8, employees have said that the awards received by AAI airports from Airport Council International (ACI) reflects the quality of services offered at by the PSU. “Thus the board approvals for leasing/privatisation of dozens of its airports cannot be said to be taken for the better management of airports and is against the commercial interests of AAI,” the letter said. One of the airports that the government is allegedly set to privatise — Indore airport — won the ACI-ASQ award for best airport in the Asia Pacific region this year.

The employees contended that because 83 airports of AAI are loss-making, the funds to run them comes from the profitable ones. “Privatisation of profit-making airports would add AAI to the list of loss-making airports,” they said. The letter also added that privatisation will snatch away reservation from SC, ST, OBC and economically backward class.

What do the employees say?

YP Gautam, General Secretary of an officers’ association of AAI, said, “The government has been pursuing its privatisation plans without holding consultations with us. Despite repeated requests, we have not had a single meeting with the minister. Whatever the government has done so far and is doing, it is being done without taking us into confidence.”

“Our demand is not to privatise the airports. It is neither in the interest of AAI, nor the nation. We have been trying to tell the authorities that this decision is not in public interest. However, nothing has been done to address our grievances so far. So, that is why we have planned an agitation. We are going to march to the Parliament on November 20,” said GS Rudrappa, General Secretary of a union at AAI.

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