Assurance in House as members express concern

Whatever the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM), which is looking into the financial restructuring of Air India, the government will find ways of paying wages soon, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.Dr. Singh was intervening in a debate on revival of the national carrier. Members expressed concern at the plight of the airline, which could not even pay its employees wages for June and July and the productivity-linked incentive since May.

Though Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanasamy was replying to questions on behalf of Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, who had a sore throat, Dr. Singh intervened when the members continuously highlighted non-payment of wages.

Dr. Singh said it was an open secret that Air India was facing serious difficulties. It did not even have the resources to pay the salaries. “Whatever be the outcome of the GoM decision, the government will find some ways and means of paying the wages … of the employees soon.”

Earlier, Yashodhara Raje Scindia of the BJP said employees who had taken car or housing loans were unable to pay their equated monthly instalments.

Some Opposition members said Air India landed in problem mainly because all profitable routes had been given to private airlines. The employees were literally starving because of non-payment of salaries.

A few members even suggested that the government wind up the airline rather than spending crores on its revival.

Keywords: AI staff wages