Some Air India Staff Still Haven’t Received Pensions 20 Years After Retiring

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Some Air India staff are struggling to draw their pensions 20 years after retiring. The issue arises from a complicated legal matter due to which some Air India employees are unable to access their pension. The employees have approached the airline and government to little avail and are now considering a legal challenge.

Air India Wuhan Evacuation Flight
There are retired employees of Air India struggling to get their pensions after even 20 years. Photo: Getty Images

Missing benefits

Air India is the country’s government-run flag carrier and offers many of its employees retirement benefits. One of these benefits is a lifetime pension and allowance, a significant draw for these jobs. However, it seems that employees have gotten stuck in a legal nightmare and are unable to access their pensions.

According to Deccan Chronicle, several Air India employees have not received their full pensions even two decades of retiring. The reason for this is due to the legal act under which the employees are covered.

Air India Crew Getty
Legal hurdles have meant that employees are only receiving a fraction of their salaries. Photo: Getty Images

Air India was nationalized in 1953, splitting into Indian Airlines and Air India International, following which its employees fell under the PF Act of 1925. However, the employees ideally should have been covered by the more recent PF Act of 1952. This mismatch has caused trouble and resulted in the employees not receiving their pension since they do not fall under the more recent scheme.

Adding to their woes, the employees are also covered by the Superannuation Pension Scheme of 1997, which set their pension at 40% of base salary and a dearness allowance. However, this scheme was amended in 2003, due to which the employees now only receive a meager ₹500 ($7) instead of the guaranteed pension.

What can they do?

The Air India employees have taken their case to many authorities, and most recently, to India’s Home Ministry. However, there is yet to be any resolution to this long-standing issue, and the employees have said they are open to any advice.

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Air India 777
Air India employees are hoping the matter will be finally resolved soon. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

The goal is to be covered under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), which will guarantee their pension. Other aviation organizations, such as the Airports Authority of India was added to the EPFO a few years ago. They also alluded to a potential court challenge if this latest request does not work.

Air India’s challenging state

Things at Air India aren’t looking too great either. The flag carrier recently unveiled a leave-without-pay scheme, which could be employees on leave for five years, to avoid job cuts. However, a few weeks later, 57 pilots were axed after the promise of no job cuts.

Air India 787
Air India is burning cash this year, with the government hoping to wrap up the sale soon. Photo: Getty Images

All of this comes as the deadline for the airline’s privatization has been extended once again. The government is hoping to wrap up the sale quickly and allow the airline to restructure itself under new leadership. Hopefully, the new owners will be able to help the former Air India employees who are struggling for their pensions.

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