With the November 9 arbitration talks between the Air India management and the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) proving inconclusive, passengers flying on the domestic routes of the airline can brace themselves for another round of strikes from November 24.
Members of the central committee of the ICPA, which represents 560 pilots belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines, told The Hindu that with the AI management “not interested” in resolving any of the burning issues, they had no option but to strike work. Five ICPA members attended the talks brokered by the Central Labour Commissioner. The AI management was represented by the Director (Internal Relations) and the General Manager (Operations).
“Neither of the AI management representatives was in a position to make any commitments on the pilots’ demands, making the meeting a futile exercise,” an ICPA member said.
Among the demands made by the ICPA are urgent steps to stop the “mismanagement” of the airline and fixing those responsible for the losses; clearing of all pending allowances due to the pilots; a written assurance that there will be no delay on the part of the airline in paying out allowances in future; and a uniform code of seniority, pay and allowances for employees of the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines, who are all now part of the National Aviation Company of India Limited.
The ICPA also wants an assurance that pilots will not be “harassed or victimised” and those who do so will be punished. It is upset that Prime Minster Manmohan Singh’s assurance that eminent personalities will be inducted into the AI Board has not honoured.
As for the appointment of a chief operating officer, the ICPA said: “The COO should be a person with knowledge of the aviation industry and experience in running an airline; not an envoy who will take orders from the AI chairman and managing director.” The Central Labour Commissioner has called for another meeting on November 20.