Air India employees to strike work next week

March 5th, 2008 - 4:20 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, March 5 (IANS) The employees’ unions of national carrier Air India have threatened to go on strike March 12 and 17, accusing the management of the newly-merged airline with going back on its promises. “We will hold protest demonstrations on Friday (March 7) and a two-hour walkout in the morning on March 12. On March 17, we are going to go on a strike,” said president of Air Corporators Employee Union (ACEU) Dinkar Shetty.

He said the strike would involve more than 15,000 employees including pilots and engineering personnel.

“The management is backtracking on promises to protect workers’ interests. We were told after merger, the best of both (the airlines) will prevail,” Shetty told IANS referring to a promised post-merger adoption of better salaries, perks and policies at the two airlines.

“But now, they are doing just the opposite. We have sent a notice to the Union Civil Aviation Minister.”

Government-run domestic carrier Indian Airlines was first renamed Indian and then merged with Air India, which is now the government’s domestic and international carrier both.

Shetty said the scrapping of compassionate appointment - the practice of reserving a job for a family member of an Indian Airlines employee who died on the job - has caused widespread resentment at the National Aviation Co of India Ltd, an entity formed by the merger of Air India and Indian.

The employees are demanding parity in seniority when the two workforces totalling 33,000 are merged. Currently, promotions are time-bound at the state-owned carriers but they do not follow the same base year.

Strong unions at the state-run airlines, especially at the erstwhile Indian Airlines, have in the past had their demands met through industrial action.

A two-day strike by the airline’s largest worker union last year opposing the merger cost the airline more than Rs.30 million ($75,000). It led to employees getting wage arrears of Rs.26.7 million, Shetty said.

Air India’s spokesperson could not reached for comments despite several attempts.

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