Air India's Leave-Without-Pay Not Voluntary: Trinamool's Derek O'Brien

Air India's decision came amid the coronavirus pandemic which has significantly impacted the aviation sector due to travel restrictions imposed globally.

Air India's Leave-Without-Pay Not Voluntary: Trinamool's Derek O'Brien

Derek O'Brien said that about 150 Air India employees have tested COVID-19 positive

New Delhi:

A day after demanding reversal of Air India's leave without pay move, senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien on Monday sought to push the point further and claimed the scheme was "not voluntary" and that the airline's internal memo and press statement were "self-contradictory".

The Rajya Sabha member put up Air India's office memo of July 14 and press statement of July 17 on his Twitter handle and highlighted some parts of the documents that he claimed were "self-contradictory".

"As per this evidence, Leave Without Pay (LWP) is NOT voluntary. Exhibit #1-@airindiain memo #420 on LWP (leave without pay) Exhibit #2-AI Press Release (points 2, 8 & 9) Press Release July17, self-contradictory (sic)," he tweeted.

The central government has justified the national carrier's decision to send certain employees on leave without pay for up to five years, with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri saying that equity infusion of Rs 500-600 crore every year was not sustainable and cost-cutting was necessary.

Air India's decision came amid the coronavirus pandemic which has significantly impacted the aviation sector due to travel restrictions imposed globally.

In a letter to Union minister Puri on Sunday, Mr O'Brien urged him to ensure that Air India withdraws its decision on leave without pay scheme.

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Terming it an "inhuman scheme" which is in sharp contrast to the Centre's earlier advisories, the TMC national spokesperson said the government has shown a complete lack of empathy and refusal to acknowledge the selfless service of Air India employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, he said that about 150 Air India employees have tested COVID-19 positive so far.

In the press statement, the Trinamool Congress leader pointed out, point number 2 states that the Leave Without Pay (LWP) Scheme enabled employees to avail the benefits of proceeding on leave without pay on Voluntary basis, whereas point number 8 says that the only addition in this scheme as compared to the earlier LWP scheme is that the management can pass an order requiring the employees to go on leave for a period of six months/two years (extendable up to 5 years) compulsorily.

Point number 9 in the release talks about the identification of such employees.

Similarly, in the memo, paragraph one says employees can opt for this scheme, whereas paragraph 3 asks departmental heads and regional directors to compulsorily send employees on LWP, he highlighted.