Air India Unions Joint forum against Privatisation of Air India held a convention on 12th of May in Chennai against the attempts of the government to privatise Air India. Air India workers, retired employees, various union activists including Workers Unity Movement attended the convention.
Convention was chaired by Com Manoharan, ex-president of Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU). Convention was addressed by ACEU's All India General secretary Com. JB Kadian, its President and Southern regional secretary Com. Udya Shankar, ACEU's Delhi Regional secretary Surender Kumar, ACEU's ex All India General Secretary Com R. Ramanathan, AIARPA president WTS David and a whole lot of Union activists as well as supporters and workers of Air India. Convention was also addressed by Com. Kabilan of Workers Unity Movement, Com. Suresh, Southern Regional President of Indian Oil Corporation Employees union and Com. Baskar, Regional Joint Secretary of Airport Authority Employees Union. Besides the MLA of the region Com. Anbarasan also spoke and opposed the privatisation move of the government.
All speakers denounced the attempts of the government to sell off Air India. They pointed out that Air India was built by the tax money of the Indian people and it was built as a gigantic organisation by the hard and dedicated work of its workers. Air India has a fleet of about 140 planes, with a 17% share of traffic on routes linking India to international destinations and about 13% share of the domestic market. Air India is part of the world’s biggest airline grouping, Star Alliance. It has prime slots at airports across the world. It has valuable assets in the form of land and buildings in Mumbai, Delhi, London, Hong Kong, Nairobi, Tokyo, Mauritius and in many other countries.
Although it has about 48,000 Crore debt due to mismanagement by the government, the assets of Air India more than make up for it. Many international and Indian airlines are eyeing to take control of Air India.
It is also the experience of workers of all those companies that were so far privatised that workers have lost their jobs along with all the accrued benefits, no matter what promises were made at the time of privatisation. Workers pointed out that this jewel asset that belong to the workers of Air India and the Indian people should not be sold to private companies.
Workers and people who took part in the convention expressed their determination to defend Air India and would not allow it to be privatized. They are planning for more protest actions to defend Air India in the coming period including an all-India Convention in Delhi. All speakers pointed out that all government employees of public sector including that of Indian Railways, BSNL are united against all privatisations and united actions against privatisation are planned. The struggle of the Air India workers against privatisation deserves to be supported by all sections of workers.