12,000 IAF non-combatants fight for better `status`

About 12,000 non-combatant IAF personnel, who are governed by Air Force laws for all service purposes but do not get paid on par, have been demanding a correction in their "status and salary" or be declared as civilians.

Updated: Sep 19, 2010, 18:02 PM IST

New Delhi: About 12,000 non-combatant IAF
personnel, who are governed by Air Force laws for all service
purposes but do not get paid on par, have been demanding a
correction in their "status and salary" or be declared as
civilians.

The non-combatants (NC), who were first recruited in 1970
to take care of IAF`s jobs such as washermen, cooks, drivers
and bar-tenders, have made several representations to the Air
Force top brass and the Defence Ministry in this regard, but
to no avail.

"Our services are governed by the Air Force Act and Rules
that also applicable to combatants for court martial and
disciplinary, leave and pension. We also get transfered to
battle stations, including the inhospitable Siachen Glacier
and to UN peacekeeping. But we do not get paid or recognised
as airmen," said a NC, requesting anonymity, as he is not
authorised to speak to the media under the Air Force laws.

"The IAF civilian staff, though, are not subjected to the
strict military laws and do not fear transfers to forward
bases. We come in between the airmen and civilians, but are
actually nowhere. We face this discrimination and there is no
respite," he said, highlighting his plight.

IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik had recently said
that he favoured according the NCs better pay packages and
that he was discussing granting their demand for "status" of
airmen with the government.

The military laws and rules are quite strict in the sense
the punishment meted out are severe and services harsh, in
terms of terrain, duties and physical endurance.

Though the non-combatants do small jobs, they are
subjected to the severity that comes with military duties and
here is where they say they deserve better.

"In fact, non-combatants had sought military service pay
(MSP) and it was recommended by the IAF, as granted to airmen
under the sixth pay commission. But the Finance Ministry
rejected the proposal of the IAF. A petition filed in the
Armed Forces Tribunal in this regard too was dismissed
accepting the government argument," said another NC.

The NCs said there were contradictions in the government
stand on their MSP, as on one hand it does admit that they
were governed by military service rules, but when it came to
better pay, they were considered civilians by the Finance
Ministry.

In the case of non-combatants in the Army and Navy, the
men are paid MSP.

PTI