Air India pilots announce strike from March 16

Air India pilots announce strike from March 16

"We will go strike from March 16, as the Air India management has failed to come up with an interim solution to our issues till now," an official of the agitating pilots group told IANS.

The official further said that the interim solution for pay-parity would be a stop-gap solution until a committee under a retired judge and two other members comes up with its suggestions.

Earlier, the same group of pilots had postponed their planned strike March 9 after an initiative taken by Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi.

According to the official, the unions' patience with the airline management was dwindling and the option for a strike, which may cripple the already troubled national carrier, was the only solution.

"If we (pilots) decide to join some other airline at least they will treat us with respect and proper pay-scales," the official said.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), a group of pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines, now merged with flag carrier Air India, had served notice Feb 23 for striking work from March 9.

The association claims that there were 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 ICPA is also demanding payment of arrears since the date of merger of the two airlines in 2007.

The ICPA represents some 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
Air India has also said that all efforts are on to stave-off the strike.

"Talks are on and we are trying our best to stave-off the strike. All our efforts are currently concentrated towards it," a senior Air India official told IANS.

The talks between Ravi and ICPA failed to break the deadlock last week.
"I patiently heard what the association had to tell me. They raised some immediate concerns which I will take up with my secretary and the airline management soon," Ravi told reporters after the meeting here.

The cash-strapped airline had reported a decrease in its net loss for fiscal 2009-10 at Rs.5,551 crore against a net loss of Rs.7,189 crore in fiscal 2008-09.

The central government had infused Rs.2,000 crore of fresh equity in the flag-carrier last year in two instalments of Rs.800 crore and Rs.1,200 crore.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his 2011-12 budget, had said: "As a part of the process for financial restructuring of National Aviation Company of India Limited, an amount of Rs.1,200 crore has been provided."