Indian Airline's HR Problems

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB006
Case Length : 07 Pages
Period : 1994-2001
Organization : Indian Airlines
Pub Date : 2001
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : India
Industry : Aviation and Airlines

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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'Fighter' Pilots?

IA's eight unions were notorious for their defiant attitude and their use of unscrupulous methods to force the management to agree to all their demands. Strikes, go-slow agitations and wage negotiations were common. For each strike there was a different reason, but every strike it was about pressurizing IA for more money. From November 1989 to June 1992, there were 13 agitations by different unions. During December 1992-January 1993, there was a 46-day strike by the pilots and yet another one in November 1994.

The cavalier attitude of the IA pilots was particularly evident in the agitation in April 1995. The pilots began the agitation demanding higher allowances for flying in international sectors. This demand was turned down. They then refused to fly with people re-employed on a contract basis. Thereafter they went on a strike, saying that the cabin crew earned higher wages than them and that they would not fly until this issue was addressed. Due to adamant behaviour of pilots many of the cabin crew and the airhostesses had to be off-loaded at the last moment from aircrafts.

In 1996, there was another agitation, with many pilots reporting sick at the same time. Medical examiners, who were sent to check these pilots, found that most of these were false claims. Some of the pilots were completely fit; others somehow managed to produce medical certificates to corroborate their claims. In January 1997, there was another strike by the pilots, this time asking for increased foreign allowances, fixed flying hours, free meals and wage parity with Alliance Air. Though the strike was called off within a week, it again raised questions regarding IA's vulnerability. April 2000 saw another go-slow agitation by IA's aircraft engineers who were demanding pay revision and a change in the career progression pattern...

Troubled Skies

Frequent agitations was not the only problem that IA faced in the area of human resources. There were issues that had been either neglected or mismanaged. For instance, the rates of highly subsidized canteen items were not revised even once in three decades and there was no policy on fixing rates...


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