Thursday, April 28, 2011

800 AI pilots on strike, several flights hit

From India Today

New Delhi:A section of Air India pilots numbering about 800 went on strike on Tuesday night demanding pay parity and better working conditions. 

There have been 6 flight cancellations in Mumbai and 7 in Delhi. Two Kathmandu flights from Delhi have also been cancelled. Air India management though unperturbed by the strike maintained that the passengers won't be affected and said that the strike is illegal. It has warned that strict action will be taken against those who refuse to report for work, and some pilots may even be terminated. The tug of war between pilots and the mangement of Air India has been on for a while on pay parity and yesterday, talks failed again during the meeting with the Cheif Labour Commissioner. 

The ICPA decided to go strike following breakdown of talks involving the Association, the management and the Chief Labour Commissioner. The talks were being held over a period of several weeks. 

The 800-odd pilots belong to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owe allegiance to the ICPA. The merged entity--Indian Airlines and Air India--has about 1,200 pilots. 

According to airline sources, the services of pilots belonging to management cadre will be roped in to ensure there is no large scale disruption of flights of the national carrier. 

The ICPA want the pay for pilots of Indian Airlines to be on par with Air India. 

It has claimed that there are differences in salaries and working conditions of pilots of Indian Airlines and Air India and that the management has violated the memorandum of settlement signed in November 2009 on implementing the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. 

The 400 pilots who operate international flights belong to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG). 

The ICPA claims that while the Air India pilots enjoy a big fixed salary component, the same is almost minuscule for the former IA pilots. 

The Association claims that while their entire pay package depends on the hours they fly every day, the airlines has been curtailing the number of flights by 30 to 40 per cent. 

"The management is instigating and provoking us to go on a strike so that they can derecognise our union. They have done it in case of two major unions -- AIR Corporation Employees Union and the union representing the aircraft engineers," ICPA leaders from southern region said. 

The ICPA leaders welcomed the Union Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi's initiative in setting up a three-member committee to look into pay parity issue. The committee is to submit its report in five months. 

They maintained that they have been cooperating with the management, including for operations to Libya and Tokyo. 

The ICPA had given strike notice on February 23 demanding better working conditions and fixed pay component. 

The union, which had threatened to go on strike from March 9, had deferred their agitation till March 15 following tripartite talks with the carrier's management and the CLC. 

Later, the Delhi High Court restrained them from going on strike from March 16. 

Taking note of the situation, Civil Aviation Ministry constituted a three-member committee to examine the wage parity issue in Air India. 

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