Take back sacked pilots and we will end strike: Air India union (Lead)

May 23rd, 2012 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) Grappling with a contempt of court notice, the agitating Air India pilots Wednesday extended an olive branch to the government saying they would end the 16-day strike if their sacked colleagues are taken back and the management starts negotiations on the issues raised by them.

“This (stir) can be over in no time if our sacked pilots are taken back and talks start on issues that we have raised,” Rohit Kapahi, committee member, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), told IANS.

“We have requested the management, the ministry and everyone concerned that we are ready for talks, but without condition of joining work first without any discussions on our issues.”

He said the IPG did not have much faith on the promise of no victimisation as the government had sacked around 101 pilots from a strength of 444 pilots of the union.

“How can we come back to work without our sacked colleagues who have scarified their jobs for us. They have to be reinstated first,” said Tauseef Mukadam, joint secretary, IPG.

The sacked 101 pilots include the main office bearers of the IPG. Nearly all of the IPG office bearers’ flying licences are also in the line of fire of the regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The pilots trashed the management’s plans of wet-leasing aircraft which will come with crew and pilots to salvage the international operations, stating that this will escalate costs that the airline cannot cope with.

“When we have 17 large-body aircraft grounded in Delhi, when we have nearly 400 pilots on strike and when there are mounting losses, how can the management think of wet-leasing aircraft while the original capacity remain unused,” Kapahi asked.

The IPG also blamed the management for irregularities in using the company’s resources.

“An internal vigilance committee report that we have accessed provides us with a fact that there has been a financial sabotage of Rs.4,300 crore on various accounts like dry-lease of aircraft, under utilisation of aircraft and ad hoc decision to induct aircraft without any market research,” Mukadam said.

“If the sorry state of affairs continues at the airline then further losses are expected to mount up.”

The airline has lost Rs.260 crore in revenue since the pilots went on strike.

Trouble started for the carrier May 8 when pilot-members of the IPG took mass sick- leave, protesting the management move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

The pilots have made four demands which include exclusive flying rights on Boeing 787 aircraft, payment of arrears from 2007 onwards, travel on first class when not working, and the right to be promoted as commanders within six years.

The airline is operating its international operations under an extended contingency plan that will be in force till June 1. Under the plan, the airline is operating a bare minimum number of flights by clubbing services to destinations in Europe and the US.

The Air India management moved a contempt petition in the High Court, accusing them of “flagrant violation” of the court order which had declared the strike as illegal.

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