Airport employees claim victory, call off protest

March 14th, 2008 - 1:08 am ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Claiming victory, airport employees withdrew their two-day-old strike Thursday evening after the government assured them the existing Banaglore and Hyderabad airports would not be closed when the new greenfield airports of the two cities start operating. However, as the civil aviation ministry did not clarify if commercial operations at the two existing airports would continue once new airports start operating, the striking employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said they would continue to hold talks with the government.

“If the government does not clarify the position by May 31, we would go on strike once again,” said a leader of the Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU).

The AAEU went on what it called non-cooperation stir from Tuesday midnight.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Wednesday said the government was obliged to close down all commercial civil aviation operations at the existing airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad once the new airports are made operational there.

He referred to an agreement signed between the government and the developers of the two airports earlier, which requires all commercial activities at the two existing airports to end when the greenfield projects become operational.

The striking employees had earlier refused to resume their duty for the second consecutive day Thursday across 121 airports in the country.

However, the strike did not have much impact as flight movements at all airports were near normal. The Indira Gandhi International Airport here reported near normalcy on Wednesday and Thursday with most flights operating on time.

Passengers, though, faced harried time. There was a shortage of passenger trolleys for carrying baggage at the arrival terminal here, said a passenger, who reached here from Mumbai early Thursday morning.

In Mumbai, AAEU national assistant general secretary Dilip Gujjar said: “All are demands have been fulfilled. The employees working at existing Hyderabad and Bangalore airport have been given a job guarantee.”

“They will continue working in their same position,” Gujjar told IANS.

The ministry has also agreed to retain AAI workers at the Mumbai and Delhi airports, he said.

Initially, Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) had agreed to absorb a minimum of 60 percent of employees working at the two airports and had given a three-year period for the AAI staff who did not wish to join the consortium.

“Now, we will not be transferred to the AAI airports in other cities but continue working in our existing airports,” said Gujjar.

“We are very happy that our demands have been met,” said Ahmedabad Airport Authority Employees Union assistant secretary D.B. Raval.

He said all the 14 demands were accepted by the government.

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