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Rediff.com  » Business » AI strike: 10 agitating pilots sacked, union de-recognised

AI strike: 10 agitating pilots sacked, union de-recognised

Last updated on: May 8, 2012 15:08 IST

AI strike: 10 agitating pilots sacked, union de-recognised

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In a crackdown, Air India on Tuesday sacked ten agitating pilots, de-recognised their union and sealed its offices as around 160 of them failed to join duty, including office bearers of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), which is leading the agitation, were terminated, the sources said.

While the IPG has been de-recognised, the sources said its offices in Mumbai and Delhi were sealed.

A section of Air India pilots owing allegiance IPG are agitating over the rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training and matters relating to their career progression.

"Four flights - Delhi-Toronto, Delhi-Chicago, Mumbai-Newark and Mumbai-Hongkong via Delhi have been cancelled due to unavailability of pilots," an Air India spokesperson said in Mumbai.

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Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

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Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-backed pilots' body has said that it is open to negotiations with the management.

"We are open to negotiations at any given time," Indian Pilots Guild president and NCP leader Jitendra Awhad told PTI.

The Civil Aviation Minister said the pilots went on sick leave in the midst of their talks with the management of Air India which has led to cancellation of flights.

Noting that Air India is currently going through a turbulent period and crores of rupees of public money were being infused to run the carrier, Singh said this was not the right time for such protests.

Agreeing that every section of employees had grievances and there were ways to find a solution, the Minister said the "strike is illegal."

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Image: File photo of Air India pilots
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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"The management (Air India) has completely backtracked from what had been agreed upon in the last 2-3 days. Therefore, we are left with no option but to intensify our agitation," Guild sources had said earlier.

Disappointed over the management's attitude, some 100 odd pilots have already join the agitation and the Guild said it expected the number to swell to 250-300 by tomorrow, they had said, indicating the flights operations could be hit severely in the coming days.

Earlier, the management held meeting with the pilots in New Delhi in its bid to defuse the crisis, arising out of the rescheduling of the Dreamliners training programme.

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Photographs: Reuters

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On Saturday, a section of pilots reported sick, apparently to protest the move, resulting in cancellation of one international flight and delaying another two.

It is understood that during their meeting yesterday, the airline management told the pilots that they had no reasons to strike work at a time when the government had announced a bailout package for the national carriers.

The management is also said to have told the pilots to wait for a solution till the Justice D M Dharamadhikari Committee report is implemented by the government.

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Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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Terming the strike by Air India pilots as "illegal", Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said the management of the national carrier would take appropriate action against those involved in the stir.

Singh said the pilots went on sick leave in the midst of their talks with the management of Air India which has led to cancellation of flights. 

"They are reporting sick. They have not given any notice for any strike. So whatever the Air India management rules and regulations, action will be taken accordingly," Singh said.

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Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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"In the midst of the talks with the Air India management, they (pilots) started taking sick leaves because of which flights have been cancelled. If their talks with Air India have failed, they could have spoken to the Ministry or to me. They (pilots) have number of well-wishers," he said.

Noting that Air India is currently undergoing a turbulent period and crores of public money is being infused to run the carrier, Singh said every section has grievances and that there are ways to find a solution.

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Photographs: Reuters

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"Strike is illegal. There is a way to launch a strike. Every section has grievances and problems. But there are ways," he said.

The Minister stressed that the pilots should come to the negotiating table and resolve their issues through dialogue but not launch any strike.

"They can raise their voice, but it is important to continue the talks," Singh said.

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Photographs: Jewella C Miranda/Rediff Archives
Tags: Singh

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"The pilots were told to return to work by today evening," Air India spokesperson said.

It is understood that the management has also decided to send doctors' team to the pilots' houses, who are reporting sick, to protest against the rescheduling of Boeing 878 Dreamliner training.

"We have decided to send doctors' team at the residence of the pilots, who are reporting sick. It is our primary duty to enquire about their health," airline sources said.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-backed pilots' body has said that it is open to negotiations with the management.

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Photographs: Reuters

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"We are open to negotiations at any given time," Indian Pilots Guild president and NCP leader Jitendra Awhad told PTI.

The Civil Aviation Minister said the pilots went on sick leave in the midst of their talks with the management of Air India which has led to cancellation of flights.

"They are reporting sick. They have not given any notice for any strike. So whatever the Air India management rules and regulations, action will be taken accordingly," Singh told reporters.

Noting that Air India is currently undergoing a turbulent period and crores of public money is being infused to run the carrier, Singh said every section has grievances and that there are ways to find a solution.


Photographs: Reuters

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