Millennium Post

Airport privatisation: Govt may not let operators lay off current employees

With AAI employees deciding to go on strike on March 11 to protest privatisation, the government is mulling amending the manpower absorption clause for potential private operators, and may ask them to retain all existing employees post-privatisation.

Official sources on Wednesday said that the proposed tweaking of norms was to allay apprehensions of the employees’ union that the private players might retrench workers in big numbers once the management and operations of the four airports, which are being privatised, come under their control.

“Under the OMDA (operations, management and development agreement) for Delhi and Mumbai Airports, the private operators were to absorb 60 per cent of the then existing workforce, which may be amended with a provision for 100 per cent absorption for the current round of privatisation,” the sources said here. Taking the erstwhile UPA dispensation’s agenda of airports’ privatisation forward, the BJP-led government has decided to hand over Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Jaipur airports to private corporates, even though the government has already invested Rs 5,000 crore in their modernisation.

Nine private firms, including Tata and Adani groups, have showed interest in operating, managing and developing these four airports. GMR, GVK, Essel, Siemens, Flemingo, IBDF Zurich and Cochin International Airport are the other aspirants.

At present, the four airports combined have a total employee strength of 5,174, with Kolkata and Chennai accounting for almost 90 per cent of the total workforce at 2, 356 and 2,250 employees respectively, the sources said.

This provision is expected to be incorporated in the Request for Proposal (RFP) document, which is yet to be invited, they said.
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