Jet Airways dispute, India: ITF comment

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10-Sep-2009 Commenting on the dispute over Jet Airways’ sacking of 10 pilots for completely lawfully  establishing a trade union, ITF Civil Aviation Secretary Gabriel Mocho said: “Let's get this straight; these pilots have made no demands apart from their basic right to form a union. 

The company has grotesquely over-reacted. “Jet Airways, India’s third largest airline, has so far sacked 10 pilots for trying to form a union, in direct contravention of not only international freedom of association conventions, but also Indian national law.”

“If anyone is holding the country to ransom, it is Jet’s management.”

Gabriel Mocho concluded: “What has made several airlines disappear is mismanagement and excessive greed, not their workers' actions”.

The dispute with Jet Airways arose in August when the General Secretary and Joint Secretary of the National Aviators’ Guild (NAG) – a union representing the airline’s pilots which was set up in June and registered in July – were dismissed.

The leaders of eight Indian trade union national centres have written to Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, Jet Airways CEO. Quoting their letter one of the signatories, Umraomal Purohit, HMS General Secretary and former ITF President, said: “This is not an industrial dispute over pay or conditions of work, it is the matter of removal of employees from service for forming a trade union. Please be informed that by preventing the pilots to form a union you are violating their legal right to pursue legitimate trade union activities and infringing their fundamental right to freedom of association guaranteed to them and all citizens of India by the Constitution of India.”

India’s Chief Labour Commissioner met Jet management today and is due to hold reconciliation talks tomorrow with the NAG.

Meanwhile trade union leaders such as Umraomal Purohit and SR Kulkarni of the All India Port & Dock Workers’ Federation continue to work to help resolve the dispute.