Court fails to break pilots strike deadlock

May 2nd, 2011 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) “Do you think public opinion is with you?” the Delhi High Court Monday asked striking pilots of national carrier Air India while hearing criminal contempt proceedings against the pilots union office bearers for ignoring a court stay order on the strike.

“When the court has passed the order to restrain the ongoing strike from April 29 onwards, then you should have followed it. We can’t allow undermining of the institutional order,” said the divisional bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Veena Birbal.

The court also asked the pilots to call off their strike immediately, terming it as a disservice to the nation.

“By your act of agitation, you have caused loss to the nation,” said Justice Ahmed, asking the pilots: “Is it worth that thousands should suffer, just due to eight persons. Do you think the public opinion is with you?”

Ignoring the court’s plea again, the agitating pilots Monday refused to call off the strike until their demands are fulfilled, but showed some willingness to resolve the matter if Air India management took up their issues within 24 hours.

“We will immediately call off the strike if the management takes up two of our demands - of restoring recognition status of ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots Association) and reinstating the sacked pilots,” counsel for the pilots union informed the court.

The court will take the matter for further hearing Tuesday.

If found guilty by the court, the top brass of the union faces a possible six-month jail for contempt of court.

The court of Justice Gita Mittal Friday initiated criminal contempt of court proceedings against members of ICPA, the union behind the strike and whose members were on the payroll of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

Air India has some 1,600 pilots on its rolls and operates some 320 flights daily.

The strike, which started Tuesday midnight, has since caused cancellation and re-scheduling of around 700 flights and a revenue loss of Rs.58 crore.

On Monday, close to 165 flights were cancelled, as the pilot’s strike continued for the sixth day with nearly half of Air India’s 1,600 pilots on strike.

According to the official, the flag carrier’s international operations were also affected with the cancellation of 43 flights bound for foreign destinations like London, Dubai and Kathmandu.

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