NEW DELHI: Last month, the government approved a proposal to manage six Airports Authority of India (AAI)-owned airports under public-private partnership. These six airports are Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, and Mangaluru. The move is being opposed by AAI, under the banner of Airport Authority Employees Union. On Tuesday, December 4, the employees staged protests across the country, against the government’s decision to privatise these six profit-making airports.
Talking to Newsclick, Balraj Singh Ahlawat, General Secretary of the union, said the move would affect employees as well as customers. “The most dangerous part about this move is, GVK and GMR, the two private operarators who run the already privatised airports, and will probably run the newer ones too, will have a monopoly in the sector. They will do whatever they want,” he said.
He said privatisation would lead to further exploitation of the workers. “The AAI-managed airports have reservations for people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, which provides them with opportunities for work. However, after privatisation, staff will be hired only on contractual basis. And these contractual staff will be exploited by the private operators. We have seen this happen previously.” He also said the cost of services would also go up, as had been the case for the airports that had been privatised earlier.
Also Read: Mumbai: Consumers Agitated As Power Bills Spike After Adani Takes Over
“Before privatisation, 60% of the income of AAI came from Delhi and Mumbai airports. However, after privatisation, that number has decreased to 30%. As per the records of 2015-16, out of the net income of Rs 12,542 crore from all the airports, only Rs 3,836 crore came from Delhi and Mumbai airports,” Ahlawat said, adding that this was an indication that income would further decrease after privatisation of these six airports, which are making good profits now.
To oppose this move by the Union government, and to intensify their agitation, the employees have decided to go on a three-day hunger strike starting December 10. After that, they will continue lunch-hour demonstrations. The employees have also threatened to go on mass leave on December 28, which is likely to affect operations at airports during the festive.
Also Read: Haryana Roadways Workers Protest Following Sacking of 365 Drivers