AI Express union flags concerns over charge sheet to cabin crew; says move unfortunate

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Mumbai: An Air India Express staff union has claimed the airline has issued charge sheets against 200 cabin crew members for reporting sick last month when the carrier faced significant disruptions.

The Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU) has termed the airline's move as unfortunate and unfair labour practice.

In a letter to Air India Express chief Aloke Singh on Sunday, the union also warned the Tata Group-run airline's management that such actions could be detrimental to the interests of the company and its passengers.

There was no comment from Air India Express.

According to Union sources, the charge-sheet was issued to around 200 cabin crew members on June 5, with a deadline of 72 hours to file a response.

Around 200 cabin crew members of Air India Express went on strike on May 7, to protest against the alleged mismanagement in the airline, resulting in cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Consequently, the airline management terminated the services of 25 cabin crew members and warned the others to join work or else face the same action.

Three days later, the strike was called off after a conciliation meeting between the representatives of cabin crew members and the airline management at the Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) in Delhi on May 9.

"The charge-sheet was issued by the Chief of HR to many of the cabin crew members regarding their sick reports. It is very unfortunate and constitutes unfair labour practice to reopen the case and issue charge-sheets for matters that have already been settled through conciliation.

"The termination orders of the 25 cabin crew members were also withdrawn during conciliation based on the settlement agreement," the Union, which is affiliated to the RSS, said in the letter.

Requesting the management to refrain from reopening settled issues, AIXEU president K K Vijayakumar said in the letter, "Such actions could be detrimental to the interests of the enterprise and its passengers. Instead, I urge you to seek opportunities for cooperation to strengthen our industrial relations.” Stating that the entire issue was discussed before the Central Labour Commissioner (CLC) on May 9 and was amicably settled between the management and the union, it added, "Pursuing the charge-sheet and initiating punitive action against employees would only lead to unpleasant situations and worsen the already affected industrial relations." "It was clearly stated in the last hearing held on May 28 in front of the CLC that no punitive action would be initiated against the employees in this regard," the Union said.

"Additionally, since the issue was settled on May 9, I believe that the employees were available for duty the following day. However, numerous flight cancellations occurred due to data loss from newly introduced software, as no backup was maintained by the concerned department and no training was provided to handle the software," it said.

This operational lapse is being misrepresented as the fault of the cabin crew employees," the Union said in the letter.

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