The rigid attitude of the management and of the striking pilots of Jet Airways had led to a stalemate, which is regrettable. The delay in negotiations has not only caused huge losses for the airline but also created a lot of inconvenience to passengers. The suggestion given by Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam that Jet Airways be nationalised is no solution, as the national carrier itself is in a deep crisis.
When the national air carrier Indian is unable to cope with pressure and is looking up to the government for help to keep itself going, how can Mr. Nirupam call for the nationalisation of a private airline? At a time when we are gradually moving towards greater privatisation, the demand is neither logical nor economical.
If the pilots of Jet Airways have caused hardship to passengers by striking work, the other airline companies are fishing in troubled waters by hiking the airfares steeply. This has added to the passengers’ woes.
I was appalled on reading that the other airlines hiked their ticket fares in the wake of the cancellation of flights by Jet Airways. It reminds me of the autorickshaw drivers of Chennai who fleece the people whenever the public transport system is disrupted.
The sudden strike by Jet Airways pilots has affected the passengers seriously. There are reports that the airfare from Mumbai to Chennai shot up to Rs.20,000 at one point. The pilots should have at least given some advance notice for the people to make alternative arrangements.
It is true that the passengers who had booked their tickets on Jet Airways were put to a lot of inconvenience on account of the strike by the pilots. But who is responsible for the strike? How can the management sack two pilots for forming an association — the National Aviators Guild — when the Supreme Court has held in the B.R. Singh case that it is a democratic right? The industrial law declares that it is an unfair labour practice for employers to prevent employees from forming trade unions. It has also been made a penal offence.
The authorities should, therefore, see to it that the employers first follow the law by withdrawing the illegal dismissals, allow the employees to form an association and negotiate with them. Bilateralism is the basic principle of industrial democracy as pointed out by V.R. Krishna Iyer.
Pilots draw huge salaries and perquisites. What is the need for them to unionise? They are not working in some industrial unit, drawing modest salaries. Are the pilots aware of the immense harm they have caused to the people and the profession they serve?