New Delhi, Sep 29 : Retired employees of Air India have said that the absence of pensions is causing them hardship.
"Considering the rate of inflation and devaluation of rupee in India, the accumulated Provident Fund received by the employees of Air India does not facilitate them to meet their basic needs after retirement. Hence, without any steady income and any pension, it is causing financial hardship to us, retired employees," they said.
The retired employees have now asked the Labour Ministry to bring Air India under the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 to avail pension after retirement.
"We, the retired employees of Air India Ltd, hereby request you to do the needful on our matter to bring Air India under the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 to avail pension through Employees' Pension Scheme, 1995 in place of the existing coverage under the Provident Funds Act, 1925.
"Further, with limited source of income, we are not in a position to fight it out with Air India management legally and hence request your kind intervention to sort out this issue positively in our favour," the retired employees said in a letter to Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar.
"We are sure that you will be able to bring positive change and succeed in bringing uniformity in application of EPF MP Act, 1952 and bringing all left-out Government agencies under its ambit," they said.
The Standing Committee on Labour has recommended that the Ministry should now proactively explore the possibilities of amending the obsolete 1925 act and merge all the PF trusts of all establishments/organisations under it into a single body/trust.
To arrive at any conclusion and decide an appropriate process, the information from establishments/organisations under the 1925 act was called in a proforma. It was brought out that the government is actively considering bringing the remaining few left-over establishments, currently covered under the 1925 act, also under the ambit of the 1952 act.
In March, a writ petition was filed by around 1,450 retired Air India employees requesting that the Air India management be asked to join the EPFO.
In this regard, an order was passed by the judge asking Air India to reply within 12 weeks.
However, with the lockdown announced by the government due to Covid-19, after a gap of 20 weeks, Air India's management, vide its letter dated August 13, 2020, said that since the airline is under the PF Act, 1925, hence it is not possible for Air India to become a member of EPFO, to enable the retirees of Air India Ltd to become eligible to get pension.
The employees said: "We would like to reiterate the fact that inspite of Air India Ltd being a Public Sector Company, owned by the Government of India and whose Chairman and the Board are appointed by the Government, its employees are not covered under Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, in order to make its employees eligible for pension after retirement."
Any rule which denies pension of a reasonable amount to its employees is against the
spirit of Article 14 of the Constitution,they added.
"Whilst on the subject, we wish to inform that, the salary structure in Air India has always been very low as compared to other public sector undertakings like BPCL, HPCL or ONGC," they said.
They said that presently, under the scheme of pension annuity is bought in the name of retired employee and an amount of approximately Rs 300 per month is received by an employee retired in the grade of assistant manager.