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Air India gives 'ultimatum' to striking pilots

PTI New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 29, 2011

Display board at the T3 terminal of the IGI airport on the third day of Air India pilots' strike in New Delhi. The strike, which began on Wednesday, is likely to continue as the national carrier decided to suspend booking for the next five days. -- V.V.Krishnan   -  The Hindu

With the Air India pilots’ stir entering its third day affecting thousands of travellers, the airlines today issued an “ultimatum” to its pilots asking them to resume work by this evening even as the Delhi High Court refused to stay a management order derecognising their union.

While the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) leaders said an “ultimatum” was issued by the HR Department, company officials said: “We are following the court directions (given yesterday). Through an internal memo, we have asked all pilots whether they can be rostered for duty from 5 p.m. today.”

The development came after a substantial number of around 300 executive pilots joined the 800-odd members of the ICPA, which is spearheading the strike.

In another development, the Delhi High Court refused to stay the Air India management order derecognising the ICPA.

Refusing to accede to ICPA’s plea to revoke its derecognition, Mr Justice S. Murlidhar issued a notice to Air India Ltd and sought its response on the plea by the pilots’ body by July 16, the next date of hearing.

Ms Justice Geeta Mittal of the High Court had on Wednesday asked the pilots to call off their agitation and resume work in “larger public interest’’. The court had warned that the property of ICPA will be attached if they did not return to work immediately.

Capt A.S. Bhinder, President of the ICPA, which is demanding pay parity among other issues, told reporters that the agitators would resume duty only after the management “makes concrete and time-bound commitments on our demands’’.

These including a higher fixed component in their salary, a CBI probe into alleged mismanagement and removal of the Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Mr Arvind Jadhav, holding him solely responsible for the “financial mess’’.

“We want the management to resolve the issues within a specific time-frame. Besides, all those the sacked or suspended should be taken back, our offices desealed and derecognition of ICPA revoked,” he said. The management has terminated the services of seven pilots and suspended six others.

Executive pilots also joined the agitation on Thursday and started reporting sick, leading the management to send doctors to their homes. Over 100 senior pilots have so far reported sick, according to ICPA sources.

The cash-strapped carrier is losing Rs four crore per day due to the strike. However, the sources said, this figure might be more as the airlines has liabilities towards payment of instalments of new and leased aircraft and the salary of its employees.

With both pilots and management refusing to budge from their stated positions, passengers continued to bear the brunt of the agitation. Most of the flyers have cancelled their tickets on Air India while others were being accommodated in other airlines.

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Published on April 29, 2011
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