The International Transport Workers' Federation has expressed its solidarity with Air India
unions opposing disinvestment of the airline, saying any change in the status of the state-run carrier should be negotiated with the workers and the unions.
The federation, representing 740,000 aviation workers across the globe and 19 million members in transport sector, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested him to ask the Civil Aviation Ministry to start the process of "sincere dialogue and engagement" with the joint forum of Air India
unions and the association representing Air India
"It is crucial that the government and investors recognise that the core assets of an airline is the skills, expertise and the goodwill of the employees. They are not assets to be traded like commodities and nor should their security and working conditions be undermined," the ITF said.
"The federation will be monitoring the situation closely and if it appears that Air India is becoming anti-Union airline, we will mobilise our aviation affiliates into solidarity with their colleagues in India," the federation warned in the letter to the prime minister.
Starting the disinvestment process of the national carrier, the preliminary information memorandum for the proposed sale of up to 76 per cent stake in Air India along with management control to private entities was issued on March 28.
The government also made it clear that it would have the rights of a "minority shareholder" with 24 per cent stake in Air India post disinvestment.
According to the memorandum, the winning bidder would be required to stay invested in the airline for at least three years.
The proposed disinvestment would include profit-making Air India Express and joint venture AISATS. The latter is an equal joint venture between the national carrier and Singapore-based SATS Ltd.
The existing debt and liabilities of Air India and Air India Express as on March 31, 2017 would be re-allocated, as per the memorandum.
The national carrier is staying on taxpayers' money under the turnaround plan approved by the previous UPA government in 2012.