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AI staff may not get berth on board after divestment

Ashwini Phadnis

P. Manoj

NEW DELHI, July 31

AIR India workers are unlikely to find a place on the recast board of the airline immediately after the disinvestment process is completed.

Senior Government officials told Business Line that it will be difficult to offer a place to the workers on the AI board just yet especially as this does not find mention in the shareholders agreement that has been finalised and frozen.

However, officials were quick to point out that there was nothing to stop either the Government or the strategic partner from offering a seat on the board to the workers.

At a meeting here which was attended by the Minister for Disinvestment, Mr Arun Shourie, and the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Sharad Yadav, various AI unions had sought a representation on the board of the airline after the proposed divestment.

The unions' reasoning was that if the Government was disinvesting 10 per cent stock in their favour, they too should have a representation on the board.

The Cabinet decision on disinvestment of Government equity in AI allows the strategic partner to pick up to 40 per cent of equity, while 10 per cent each can be picked up by financial institutions and the workers.

On the issue of dealing with the trade unions in the post-disinvestment period, officials said that this will be the task of the new management. ``The Minister for Disinvestment has made it clear that the new management will have to deal with all the iss ues within the law of the land. However, the Minister also indicated how some private sector companies have dealt with their labour,'' officials said.

Talking about divestment of Government equity in the Maharaja, officials felt that despite the objections raised by certain political parties, the process was still much on track.

While refusing to speculate on the timeframe for the completion of the process, officials indicated that the issuance of notice to the Hindujas to show cause as to why they should not be disqualified for bidding in public sector undertakings was not hamp ering the progress of disinvestment.

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