One airline and the tactic of blackmail

Updated: May 11, 2012, 20:51 PM IST

Reema Sharma

The tactic of blackmailing has been in our genes. Before we start walking we know how to get attention from our parents. We blackmail them on many accounts, they blackmail us back later. From chocolates, toys, late night parties, campfires, school reports to college performances, we knew the strategy of convincing.

We grow up, at times blackmailing our friends, they blackmail us back. We know that those are syrupy tools of persuasion. But the course of blackmailing ceases to remain a sweet tactic when it enters the professional arena.

The policy of this blackmailing took a bitter course this Tuesday with hundreds of Air India pilots reported sick on the issue of training for the Boeing-787 Dreamliner. However, the Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh has expressed helplessness on the training rights on the Dreamliner. His statement that ‘nothing can be done about it (the training)’ as the Supreme Court has said that all employees have a right to get trained on it clearly indicates that the demand on training is not very sagacious.

Thousands of passengers stranded at airports cursing the Air India has become a regular scene. The pilots’ stir has not only caused misery and inconvenience to the passengers but has also killed the enthusiasm of peak summer holiday season. Several flights cancelled every day, several delayed for hours; the situation is certainly not an ideal scene for anyone.

The more pertinent question is how is the strike making the life of the pilots better? Seventy one pilots have been sacked so far. The Delhi High Court has also declared their strike as illegal. The pilots’ union has been de-recognised. Government is not clearly stating whether they will reinstate the sacked pilots back. Where will all these end? And in between all this the sufferers are the hapless flyers.
The Civil Aviation Minister has indicated that the entire issue is based upon the existence of Air India. If Air India ceases to exist what is the essence of pilots’ demands? It is not that the government is not bothered about the fate of the ailing maharaja.

The government is persistently trying to revive the fate of Air India. The announcement of infusing Rs 30,000 crores to breathe life into the ailing career is a clear indication of the fact that government is committed towards uplifting the bankrupt airline.

If Ajit Singh has assured that the government would consider the issues raised by pilots and the recommendations of Dharmadhikari Report on integration of employees following the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, the striking pilots should also give the government a chance to discuss the issues at hand.

Whether to keep Air India afloat or shut it down is not a one sided affair. Past experiences have always shown that negotiations and discussions are the only panacea to resolve an issue. If the government is willing to talk, the pilots association should also show prudence and come to the discussion table.

The method of blackmailing involves two parties, government at one end and the pilots on the other. In between the consumer is left to bear the brunt.