do striking pilots earn?
on a flash strike since Tuesday midnight, demanding better pay and
work conditions, causing inconvenience to thousands of passengers.
But the pay and allowances of these former Indian Airlines pilots
are not paltry either.
New Delhi/Mumbai: The Delhi High Court Wednesday stayed the flash strike by 600
pilots of Air India who were co-opted from the erstwhile Indian
Airlines but not before slamming the management for not addressing
their demands for some two decades.
The court's decision came even
as nearly 50 flights, mainly out of the national capital and
Mumbai, had to be cancelled or rescheduled due to the strike since
Tuesday midnight, causing inconvenience to thousands of air
travellers in the country.
"For the past 21-years, you are unable to sort out the problems.
That means something is lacking on your part. Because of this even
the families and children of these pilots are suffering," Justice
Gita Mittal told the counsel for Air India.
"The pilots are hereby restrained from continuing with their
strike or resorting to any demonstration, as the larger public
interest is involved," the judge said. The order was delivered
after Air India's counsel took up the matter before the
Justice Mittal said the case will come up for hearing again May
16. But the pilots said they will continue with their agitation,
and were considering moving the Supreme Court to seek redressal.
The pilots of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA),
once on the payroll of erstwhile Indian Airlines, struck work
demanding parity in pay with their counterparts in Air India and
other issues related to work conditions.
To keep the operations running and cause minimum hardship to
passengers, the Air India management decided to rope in 150
management pilots, or executive pilots, to operate the flights.
"In the event of flight disruptions, cancellation, combination or
delay of more than one hour, full refund would be effected to the
passengers," the carrier said in a statement, regretting the
Taken by surprise by the pilots' sudden decision, Civil Aviation
Minister Vayalar Ravi summoned the chairman and managing director
of National Aviation Co of India Ltd, Arvind Jadhav, to New Delhi
to discuss how to resolve the impasse.
Addressing a press conference later, he said the national carrier
cannot be backmailed.
"When we have constituted a committee to look into the-pay parity
issue and most of the 35,000 employees are co-operating and giving
their demands in writing, how can these pilots hold the company to
ransom," Ravi asked.
His reference was to the constitution of an expert committee under
a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice C.S. Dharamadhikari, to
examine employee issues such as pay parity between the staff of
the two airlines. This panel started work Monday.
The Air India management also referred to the committee and said
the pilots had given an assurance to the court that they will not
resort to such agitation. The airline also de-recognised the
union, sealed its offices, sacked six members and suspended two
"The sacking of six pilots is the right decision. Nobody can
dictate terms to the government," Ravi said.
But the pilots said they had been left with no option but to
resort to the strike. "It is the management that has forced us. We
are the third union to get derecognised," said the association's
general secretary Capt. Rishab Kapoor.
While the association members apologised to passengers, the
inconvenience caused to them left them fuming -- like 24-year-old
Nithi Nigam, who had to travel from Delhi to Mumbai but had no
clue that his flight had been cancelled.
"It's shocking. There was no information from the airline. I
arrived here at T3 terminal and got to know that the flight has
been cancelled. There are others as well who had to face a similar
situation," Nigam told IANS.
Similarly, scores of passengers, especially those from Mumbai who
were bound for various destinations for a vacation, were compelled
to tinker with their travel plans. They were seen making frantic
inquiries with private airlines, which were already running full.
Earlier in the day, Jadhav had written a strong letter to the
35,000 employees of Air India, and said the striking pilots were
behaving irresponsibly and were unconcerned about inconvenience
caused to passengers, especially in these testing times.
"Why are some pilots being impatient, being irresponsible, being
unreasonable and being adamant on tarnishing the image of the
company and being totally unconcerned towards the convenience of
our esteemed patrons and passengers?"