Air India pilots threaten strike over late salaries

February 9th, 2011 - 10:28 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai, Feb 9 (IANS) Air India pilots have threatened to go on a flash strike Thursday over delay in salary payments, even as the management of the beleaguered state-run flag carrier said their dues would be cleared by Feb 14.”We have received no such strike notice. Air India will honor our commitment of dispersing the dues to the concerned employees,” an Air India official from Mumbai told IANS.

According to him, the company has been able to arrange sufficient funds to pay for the salaries of its pilots and may even pay them before Feb 14.

Earlier, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) threatened to go on a flash strike due to the deferment of the pilots’ January salaries to Feb 14 by the flag-carrier.

“We have placed our demand earlier as well, that the salary payment should be made to the earliest by 5.00 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday). If this will not be met, we will go on a flash strike,” an ICPA member said.

The ICPA, which had written to the newly-appointed Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi last month to seek his “intervention”, said the management had deferred salaries twice this month.

After assuming charge of the civil aviation ministry, Ravi had sought the support of all unions of Air India to restore the flag-carrier’s lost glory.

The ICPA, which boasts of having around 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines as its members, also complained of discrimination by the company as they are paid by the hour, unlike their Air India counterparts who receive a fixed salary.

The strike threat could pose a major hurdle in reviving the National Aviation Company of India — the parent company of the Air India brand — which suffered losses to the tune of Rs.5,551 crore in 2009-10, in addition to the loss of Rs.7,189 crore in the previous year.

In an attempt to save the cash-strapped airline, the government had infused equity worth Rs.800 crore in February 2010 and another dose of Rs.1,200 crore last month to tide over the crisis and finance the plan to acquire a fleet of 111 aircraft ordered from Boeing and Airbus in 2006.

Currently, NACIL has 30,000 employees, including those of the erstwhile Indian Airlines that was merged into the carrier in 2007.

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