AI employees withdraw threatened strike

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Air India
New Delhi, Mar 30:  A 'no pay, no work' strike call given by a major chunk of Air India's over 28,000 employees from Monday was called off today after the ailing national carrier agreed to a "firm" schedule to clear all their salary and other dues by June.

After two days of negotiations and mediation by Congress MP in Rajya Sabha Bhalchandra Mungekar, the employees' unions decided to call off their agitation after Air India management gave them a "firm" schedule for payment of their dues. "We received their (strike) notice today.

We have given them a payment schedule under which we will clear all the dues by June. The strike has been called off," Air India CMD Rohit Nandan told reporters after a meeting with union representatives here.

The notice for 'no pay, no work' agitation had been given by eight major unions of the airline representing pilots, engineers and cabin crew among others, to protest the delay in payment of their salaries, productivity-linked incentive (PLI) and other allowances by over three months.

The union leaders and the management had held a marathon day-long meeting yesterday which had failed to yield any result and the two sides resumed their talks today.

"The management has assured us that they would be paying us one instalment of salary, one instalment of PLI and one instalment of our due incentive on 15th of every month.

By June 30 all the dues would be cleared," Ganesh Sabnis, President, Air India Aircraft Engineer's Association told PTI.

Air India faces a whopping Rs 67,000 crore debt and has reported a loss of close to Rs 6,900 crore this fiscal. The airline was also facing an average operational loss of about Rs 10 crore daily. 

"Since the management has given us a firm schedule for payment of our dues, we have called off our agitation. We are fully aware of the financial situation of the company and we did not want any disruption. But we have been stretched for months without being paid. Now all operations will remain normal," Sabnis said.

The unions had earlier sought the Prime Minister's intervention to resolve the crisis, failing which they had threatened to go on agitation from April two.

After the meeting, Mungerkar told PTI that he had asked the management to strictly adhere to their commitment they have made regarding payment schedule.

"I have told the workers to maintain status quo in the airline's operation," the Congress MP said.

Earlier too, the management had promised a staggered payment schedule to clear the dues in the next two months, expecting that by then Air India would get funds through the equity infusion of Rs 4,000 crore announced in this budget.

The unions, however, had remained unsatisfied and had decided to go ahead with their protest action, saying they had not received any "firm" assurance on their dues.

PTI

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