Its a bolt in the sky; 800 pilots go on strike

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Air India
New Delhi, Apr 27: The pilots are back to their arm twisting ways demanding a hike in their pay packets and better working conditions. Close to 800 Air India pilots went on strike from midnight on Tuesday after their demands were not conceded. The decision was taken after talks failed with the Chief Labour Commissioner.

From what could spell bad news for Indians who have made extensive travel plans during vacation time, the management has considered little of the fact and said that the strike is illegal and operations will not be affected.

The strike was declared by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) after talks failed. Vexed pilots have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging action against "high headed and dishonest management" and to restore the past glory of the airline."The Government of India has all the machinery and tools to investigate all the shortcomings of this management and hold them accountable," a pilot said.

As a retaliatory move, the Air India has de-recognised the ICPA and went a step ahead by sealing its offices in Delhi and Mumbai. In an effort to avoid the ruckus that might emerge over the number of cancellation as as a result of the strike, service of pilots in the management cadre will be used to avoid any large scale disruptions.

What is the bone of contention?
Following the merging of Indian Airlines and Air India, the ICPA had demanded that the pay for Indian Airlines pilots to be on par with those of Air India. The pilots allege that the management had not adhered to the memorandum of settlement signed in Nov 2009 enforcing the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

With the ICPA standing for the Indian Airlines staff, claims that while the Air India pilots enjoy a big fixed salary component, the same is almost minuscule for the former Indian Airlines pilots.

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