AI pilots warn of another strike

Warn of "industrial action" if outstanding issues are not resolved by the November 30 deadline


Sweta Ranjan | November 24, 2011

This winter season could be troublesome for those planning to travel by air. Holiday plans also could get disrupted as the flag carrier Air India’s key pilot union has warned of industrial action.

The pilots union, which commands a membership of 800 pilots, is slated to meet on 29-30 November to decide on their further plan of action relating to industrial action if their demands remain unmet.

The disruption in the air is evident as Air India operates domestic flights to 66 destinations. If the aircrafts are stalled by the pilots body it could lead to crisis during winter.

Pilots body of the cash-strapped national carrier have warned the government of another strike if their demands relating especially to pay parity is not discussed before the end of this month.

The pilots union, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) complained through a letter written to civil aviation minister that the Justice Dharmadhikari committee formed to look into pay parity issues has not yet submitted its report.

Justice Dharmadhikari committee was set up in May to defuse pilots strike and was asked to submit a report by end-November. Committee was formed to submit report on integrating the workforce of Indian Airlines and Air India, which were merged in 2007 under the brand of Air India.

After 10-day strike in May Justice Dharmadhikari gave the assurances that a report on wage parity and employee integration will be ready by end-November.

The report  by Dharmadhikari committee is delayed by two-three months as one of the panel member has fallen ill.

The pilot body threaten, “if they can fall sick even pilots can fall sick,” said an ICPA member.

A letter written by ICPA president AS Bhinder  to civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi and Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan reads, “we reserve the right to invoke various provisions of the Industrial Dispute Act and resort to Industrial Action as deemed fit”.

The pilots body has requested for their “urgent and constructive” intervention.

Maharajah’s pilots are also agitated over the issue of non-payment of productivity-linked incentive (PLI) for the past four months. Issues relating to pay parity, fixed flying allowance and layover subsistence allowance have not been settled yet.

Pilots body has also written to civil aviation minister seeking an appointment to discuss parity and other irregularities.

It is almost five years since the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India but there has not been successful integration of the 30,000 employees.

The more reason for disruption in the flight schedule comes as Air India pilots are looking for work options at different airlines.

Air India has been struggling also due to mass exodus of pilots. About 50 pilots have left in last four months.

If the strike is not avoided then Air India could further face a huge financial loss. Strike in May by the pilots resulted in a loss of nearly Rs. 200 crore and 80-90 percent of domestic operations were disrupted in 10 days.



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