Mumbai: National flag carrier Air India Ltd has cancelled 12% of its total daily flights and a majority of passengers of these cancelled flights were accommodated in other flights as a section of pilots went on strike on Wednesday.
Terming the strike as illegal, Air India management has de-recognized the striking union and sealed their offices.
The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) of erstwhile Indian Airlines had given a strike notice on 23 February 2011 demanding higher emoluments and parity in pay and allowances of erstwhile pilots belonging to erstwhile Air India.
Ever since the merger, the management is seized with the issue of bringing about parity in emoluments and compensation harmonization of similar categories of employees of both erstwhile Companies, said Air India in a media statement.
Meanwhile, the government had appointed an Expert Committee headed by a retired Justice of Supreme Court, Dharamadhikari, to examine the principles of integration, pay parity between all employees of erstwhile airlines and to suggest harmonized working conditions of various categories of employees. The Expert Committee has already begun to function this week.
“Till the compensation is harmonized, the employees of both the erstwhile companies would continue to draw their wages and allowances in term of the settlement signed with their respective Union and Association, prior to the merger. This means that ICPA would draw their emoluments in term of Settlement signed with ICPA and Air India pilots would draw emoluments in term of Settlement signed with their association,” the statement said.
The average earning of a co-pilot of erstwhile Indian Airlines range between Rs2.25 to Rs3.25 lakh per month and for a Commander it ranges between Rs4.00 to Rs5.00 lakh per month, it said.
The strike notice given by ICPA on 23 February 2011 was seized in conciliation and the last proceedings were held on 26 April 2011 - wherein management’s continued efforts to sit across and have a meaningful dialogue were refused by ICPA.
“The ICPA has proceeded on strike despite pendency of proceedings in conciliation and their assurance to Delhi high court. Even in case of failure of negotiations and a reference of the disputes is made to the Tribunal; no strike is legally permitted during the pendency of the case before the Tribunal,” the statement said.
ICPA executives were not immediately available for a comment.
In May last year, the management of Air India had withdrawn the recognition granted to All India Aircraft Engineers Association and the Air Corporations Employees Union following unions went on strike.
Meanwhile all efforts are being made to run the operations in a normal and smooth manner, according to Air India executives. The customer care officials have been advised to keep the esteemed passengers informed of changes in flight schedule in order to minimize any inconvenience. We urge our passengers to bear with us.
At least eleven flights are cancelled including one international flight in the noon.
SpiceJet Ltd, a low fare airline, has offered to support the passengers travelling on Air India in minimizing possible inconvenience to them due to the potential disruption they may face.
SpiceJet team across all airports has been asked to accept and accommodate requests from Air India in this regard.
Neil Mills – CEO, SpiceJet Limited says, “Passengers need all possible support from the aviation industry to ensure that their travel happens with minimal disruption and their faith in the Indian Aviation is maintained.”