28-Apr-2011 9:01 AM

Former Indian Airlines pilots initiate strike action against Air India

Air India confirmed (27-Apr-201) that Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), representing pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines, stopped work from the early hours of of 27-Apr-2011, after giving a strike notice on 23-Feb-2011 demanding higher emoluments and parity in pay and allowances of pilots belonging to erstwhile Air India (BBC/PTI/DHNS/Deccan Herald/Reuters/TNN/HindustanTimes/Business Standard/Gulf News/Indian Express/The National/IANS/AFP/Economic Times, 27-Apr-2011). The striking pilots claim they earn up to INR200,000 (USD4500) less than their Air India colleagues. Around 660 of the union's 800 pilots initiated the strike action. However, the Delhi High Court have ordered the strikers to return to work with the carrier claiming that the strike is "illegal" and the strikes have "committed contempt of court". The Court also criticised the carrier for not addressing the pilots demands over an extended period of time. “For the past 21-years, you are unable to sort out the problems. That means something is lacking on your part. Because of this even the families and children of these pilots are suffering,” Justice Gita Mittal told the counsel for Air India. Strike action however continued after the order. Meanwhile, Air India stated it has drafted in "executive pilots" to operate affected services and has sacked six union leaders, while two others have been suspended. The ICPA has maintained that the strike was legal. Around 12% of services were cancelled on 27-Apr-2011 with 26 domestic services cancelled and seven combined, with services from Delhi and Mumbai being the worst affected. Meanwhile, India's private carriers have been criticised of raising fares by up to 50% on the affected routes.

Meanwhile, the Government had appointed an Expert Committee headed by a retired Justice of Supreme Court, Shri Dharamadhikari, to examine the principles of integration, pay parity between all employees of erstwhile airlines and to suggest harmonised working conditions of various categories of employees. The Expert Committee has already begun to function this week. In the first meeting of the committee, it has been decided to invite written submission/suggestions from all unions, associations, individuals and group of employees within the erstwhile companies. The Committee has been given five months period and it hopes to amicably address and resolve all the issues assigned to it. The committee will submit its report to the government within stipulated time. It is further decided to hold next meeting in the second week of May-2011. [more - Press Release] [more - Indian Commercial Pilots' Association] [more - Air India II]

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