New Delhi/Mumbai, March 7 (IANS) Threat of a strike in national carrier Air India seemed inevitable Monday as talks between Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi and a section of the pilots demanding pay parity and better working conditions failed to break the deadlock.
“I patiently heard what the association had to tell me. They raised some immediate concerns (demands) which I will take up with my secretary and management soon,” Ravi told reporters here after the meeting.
According to the minister, the association has conveyed that it will take a final decision after consulting its senior members.
“On my part I have appealed to the association not to go on strike and to maintain normalcy,” Ravi said.
Meanwhile, the names of the members in a three-member independent committee, headed by a retired judge, to look into the airlines issues will be announced Tuesday.
A senior Air India official told IANS that all efforts were on to stave off the strike proposed for Wednesday by a section of Air India pilots.
“All our efforts are on to stave off this strike, which will have a deep impact on our airline which is facing some tough times. We will be meeting the unions tomorrow (Tuesday),” the Air India official said.
A group of pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines, which has now been merged into flag carrier Air India, had served notice Feb 23 for striking work March 9.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) served notice to airline chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav stating that they will strike work as the management had failed to address their grievances, including pay parity and better working conditions.
“We have served the notice (more than) 14 days before as per Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act. We will strike work March 9,” ICPA General Secretary Captain Rishabh Kapoor had said.
The association has claimed that there are differences in salaries and working conditions of pilots of Indian Airlines and Air India and that the management has violated the memorandum of settlement signed in November 2009 on implementing the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.
The ICPA is also demanding payment of arrears since the date of merger of the two airlines in 2007. The ICPA represents some 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
The cash-strapped airline had reported a decrease in its net loss for the fiscal 2009-2010, which stood at Rs.5,551 crore as against a net loss of Rs.7,189 crore in the fiscal 2008-2009.
Last-year, the central government had infused Rs.2,000 crore of fresh equity in the flag-carrier last year, in two instalments of Rs.800 crore and Rs.1,200 crore.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in his 2011-12 budget, had said: “As a part of the process for financial restructuring of National Aviation Company of India Limited, an amount of Rs.1,200 crore has been provided.”
The proposal for restructuring was based on inputs from the national carrier and put up by newly-appointed minister Vayalar Ravi.