The Air India Employees’ Union wrote to Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, demanding that the medical scheme, leave encashment and provident fund benefits must continue even after the disinvestment or privatisation of the airline, reported IANS.

In a letter dated December 26, the union said the existing medical scheme was crucial to the serving and retired employees. Similarly, there is a practice of availing the benefit of leave encashment at the time of retirement, it said.

“Several employees depend on this benefit to lead a decent retired life,” the letter noted. “We fear this benefit may be discontinued in case of privatisation of Air India and employees will suffer huge financial losses. Therefore, AIEU would like to propose that the employees should be paid leave encashment allowance till March 31, 2021.”

On provident fund, the union noted that there are two separate Provident Fund trusts in erstwhile Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines, which are governed by the 1925 Provident Fund Trust Act. “We would like these trusts to be continued as it is in the case of privatisation/disinvestment of Air India,” the letter said.

On December 14, the government said it had received multiple interests for strategic investment into Air India. The bidders reportedly include one of India’s biggest conglomerate Tata Sons as well as a joint venture of Air India employees and United States-based investment firm Interups. The Narendra Modi government formally kick-started the divestment process by deciding to invite expressions of interest for the carrier by January-end.

The airline had a total of 14,032 employees, including 9,426 permanent, and remaining on contract as on November 1, 2019, as per the Preliminary Information Memorandum issued on January 20 this year, according to the Hindustan Times.

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