Mumbai: Air India wide-body pilots union IPG has urged the airline management to “immediately” provide suitable compensation to the families of pilots who have lost their lives due to Covid-19.

In a letter to the Air India chairman and managing director on Saturday, the Indian Pilots Guild(IPG) also questioned the company’s HR policies, alleging that the national carrier is the “only PSU” which is “relatively complacent” in terms of compensation in case of death of an employee.

Citing the case of a pilot who died recently due to COVID-19, the IPG said that staff notice informed of “an ad-hoc payment to the family/ legal heir of employees, who die during the period of COVID-19.”

“We were surprised to learn that a domestic private airline runs a benevolent scheme with its employees where it covers a deceased pilot to the sum of 5 crore in case of death. Why can’t the flag carrier create and provide something similar?” the IPG said in the letter.         

It also claimed that “a total of three active Air India pilots lost their lives due to Covid-19 under similar circumstances within a span of five days between 9- 14 April, 2021.”

Stating that the said pilot operated from San Francisco and landed in Bengaluru on April 15, the IPG said “he travelled as staff on duty to Mumbai and immediately started complaining of COVID-like symptoms.”

“On 20th April, he did a COVID test which came back positive. He was shifted to a hospital. Gradually his condition worsened and on May 9 he passed away due to COVID,” the IPG said in the letter.

“Sadly, this (an ad-hoc payment…) is the only measure taken by Air India to compensate the next of kin of an active employee who lost their life due to contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty,” said the letter.        

Noting that while PSUs have policies in place for such tragedies with ex-gratia payment and compassionate employment being the most common, the IPG sought to know “why is Air India the only PSU that is relatively complacent towards compensation in the case of the death of an employee?”

It also sought to know the steps being taken by the management to ensure proper care of the aircrew/employees in case of coronavirus infection.

“More importantly, in the unfortunate event of the demise of an employee, how will the next of kin be compensated/looked after?” it asked.

“The need of the hour is to immediately provide a befitting compensation to our colleagues who have already paid the ultimate price. 

“Simultaneously, we request you to immediately attend to and mend this dismaying gap in the company’s HR policy so that we may know that our loved ones will be looked after by our company should the worst happen to one of us,” the IPG said in the letter.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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