Talks fail to end Air India pilots` strike

Last Updated: Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 16:48

New Delhi: A fresh round of talks between
agitating Air India pilots and the management convened by the
Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) failed on Thursday as the strike
entered the second day leading to cancellation of around 60
flights including several international ones.

Air India management moved the Delhi High Court seeking
contempt proceedings against the striking pilots for defying
its order for resuming work.

But the court came down heavily on agitating pilots for
defying its order to resume work.

The airline also terminated the services of executive
pilot Capt VK Bhalla for expressing solidarity with the
Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), taking the total
number of sacked cockpit crew to seven.

CLC NK Prasad initiated the second round of talks today
after the first exercise failed on Tuesday following which
about 800 pilots, owing allegiance to the ICPA, struck work.
The management had then derecognised ICPA, sealed their
offices in Delhi and Mumbai, sacked six pilots and suspended
two others.

At the meeting, the management remained firm that it would
not talk to a derecognised union, while the pilots demanded
restoration of recognition of their union, de-sealing of the
union offices and reinstatement of those sacked and suspended.

Representatives of the airline management refused to talk
to the pilots, saying their union was not recognised and they
had flouted court orders, officials said.

The pilots, on the other hand, insisted that the
recognition of their union be restored and all the six sacked
pilots be taken back, they said.

Flyers at several airports bore the brunt of the strike
with some complaining that they were not informed about the
status of their flights and some coming to know about the
flight cancellations only after reaching airports.

Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters here
that the conciliation proceedings were going on and "a
solution can only be reached through conciliation."

Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi has briefed Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh on the entire issue, he said, adding
that a committee had been set up to go into the issue and the
government would take a view after it submitted its report.

In Mumbai, Rishabh Kapur, the sacked ICPA General
Secretary, demanded a CBI probe into the alleged mismanagement
of the airline which, he said, had led to the huge losses
suffered by the company after the merger.

He also demanded "ouster" of the management charging it
with being responsible for taking measures that led to Air
India becoming a loss-making company.

This is the second time a pilots` union has been
derecognised by Air India. In 2003, the management had
withdrawn recognition to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), after
the erstwhile Air India pilots protested and refused to fly to
southeast Asia during the SARS outbreak. It got back its
recognition in February 2009.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 16:48

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