Govt, pilots pin hope on talks to end stir

Wednesday's talks meaningful, says ICPA; govt willing to re-recognise ICPA


Sweta Ranjan | May 5, 2011

Following the eight day of strike by Air India pilots, the civil aviation ministry made attempts at ending the stalemate by holding talks with them on Wednesday. However, the talks between the central executive commitee of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association - the representative body of the striking pilots - and the  civil aviation joint secretary Prashant Shukul remained inconclusive.

The meeting was "meanigful", according to ICPA members and has been resumed on Thursday.

The pilots were invited for talks after a two-member team headed by Shukul was formed to end the deadlock. The Air India management was left out of these negotiations. ICPA had squarely blamed the AI administration for condition leading to the stir. It has levelled corruption charges against CMD Arvind Jadhav and alleged discriminatory pay practices in the airlines.

"We want to end the strike but a meaningful dialogue should be promised to us. We feel that the talks with ministry would help in resolving the issue but we have no faith in our CMD,” an ICPA member commented.

Keen on ending the strike that has left almost the entire fleet of the national carrier grounded and thousands of passengers stranded, the government has promised an early resolution of the pilots' issues. 

“Government is willing to settle the issue... I hope wisdom will prevail on the pilots,” civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi said on Wednesday.

ICPA sources have revealed that the ministry has agreed to re-recognise the union and reinstate the terminated and suspended pilots. However, the ministry has not yet made an assenting gesture towards a favourable resolution of the pay parity issue, they added.

“The ministry is not very willing to talk on the pay parity issue and has agreed to settle our other demands but the fact is our other demands are a fallout of the CMD's vindictive action. Since the start, our primary demand has been to resolve the pay parity issue,” an ICPA member clarified.

In the two and a half hour meeting, the ministry is believed to have told the ICPA leaders that the parity issue is in the hands of Justice Dharmadhikari Committee. The ICPA, however, pressed on the issue, asking for setting a deadline for the committee to arrive at a solution.

At the meeting, the pilots union also stuck to its demand for the stepping down of CMD Jadhav and pressed for a CBI probe into the alleged corruption and mismanagement by the top level of the airline's adminsitration.



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