Jet crisis heading for compromise


The management and the National Aviators’ Guild were said to have agreed on a draft compromise formula, the details of which are not known. Following the draft compromise, the sacked pilots would be taken back albeit with some riders. The draft is said to reflect the concerns of both the management and pilots.

The meeting was attended by Jet chairman Naresh Goyal and the leaders of the NAG. Jet counsel Harish Salve and Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, who is espousing the pilots’ cause also attended the meeting.

An agreement between the two sides are likely to be reached at the meeting of the chief labour commissioner (CLC) to be held here on Friday, sources in the know said.

Passengers suffer

Passengers of the private carrier continued to suffer on Thursday, as 230 flights were cancelled owing to the agitation by the pilots whose number grew past 500, even as the CLC held a meeting that was boycotted by the cockpit crew.

President of the striking National Aviators’ Guild (NAG), Gireesh Kaushik, which is spearheading the strike, however, informed the labour ministry that he would participate in Friday’s meeting. This has given rise to hopes that there may be an end to the logjam that began on Tuesday morning. The Thursday meeting, held by CLC S K Mukhopadhyay, was attended by Jet Airways executive director Saroj Dutta.

With the strike entering the third day, the airfares continued to soar. A Delhi-Bangalore fare, which was Rs 3,000 in a budget airline and Rs 6,000 in a full-service carrier, has risen to Rs 6,000 and Rs 12,000, respectively.

Jet Airways boss Naresh Goyal called on Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday. While Goyal said it was a courtesy call, as he had not met Kharge after he became minister, Kharge told Deccan Herald: “it was a courtesy call but I told him that the strike should be resolved as passengers are suffering.”

Kharge, however, dismissed suggestions that Goyal wanted the ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) imposed on the pilots. “We cannot invoke ESMA as it has to be done by the state governments, in this case by Maharashtra.”

The civil aviation ministry has almost all but washed its hands off the strike indicating that it has no role in it.

Kharge, speaking to reporters, pointed out that pilots were free to start their unions. “There is nothing wrong in anybody establishing their trade unions in any company or organisation,” he added.

While the pilots say that their two colleagues were sacked because they started the union — the NAG — it was not known under what grounds the management dismissed them. The pilots had begun their strike demanding that the sacked pilots be reinstated insisting that their trade union rights cannot be curtailed.

“We cancelled 197 domestic and 37 international flights on Thursday,” Jet Airways general manager (Flight Operations), E Sainath said in Mumbai.

Guild’s joint general secretary and one of the sacked Jet pilots Capt Sam Thomas said: “The deadlock continues. There is nothing to say. No one has approached us for talks.”

Jet Airways cancelled international flights on the South East Asia sector to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. Its services to Gulf countries, the US and Europe, to which flights were operated on Wednesday, were also badly affected. The airline has also cancelled its flight to Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, US and Europe.

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