Air India reinstates 15 pilots after ‘illegal’ strike

May 13th, 2011 - 3:51 am ICT by BNO News  

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BNO NEWS) — The state-owned Air India on Thursday reinstated the 15 pilots who were sacked or suspended for participating in the recently ended ‘illegal’ strike, Press Trust of India reported.

Air India management suspended six pilots and terminated the contracts of nine others, including leaders of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA). The reinstatement came after the intervention of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

On Wednesday, ICPA General Secretary Rishbah Kapur filed a request to Civil Aviation Minister Valayar Ravi to intercede in the issue after Air India did not take any action in regards to the 15 pilots.

“We have revoked the suspension of six pilots and reinstated the services of nine terminated pilots last evening and some of them have been even put on duty also,” said the state-owned air carrier in a statement.

Last Friday, Air India pilots called off their 10-day strike after the government agreed to look into their complaints. Over 800 pilots belonging to the state-owned airline returned to work that same evening.

ICPA and Civil Aviation Ministry officials met for five hours to solve the conflict. The union demanded that suspensions and transfers made during the strike period be revoked and that the ICPA’s recognition be restored.

The pilots went on strike while demanding pay parity stemming from the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India. The Indian government appointed a three-member committee to investigate the wage parity issues from the merger but the report will be ready in four months.

Few days after the beginning of the strike, the Delhi High Court initiated contempt proceedings against the ICPA union after its members refused to return to work despite an order, calling on pilots to end their agitation and labeling the strike as illegal.

After the court’s ruling, Air India no longer recognized the ICPA and closed down its offices in Delhi and Mumbai. The strike caused much inconvenience to travelers and resulted in a loss of nearly two billion rupees ($44 million) to the ailing national carrier.

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