Delhi HC terms Air India pilots' strike "illegal"
New Delhi, May 9(ANI): In a major blow to the striking Air India pilots, the Delhi High Court (HC) on Wednesday termed their strike "illegal", and said there should not be any more strikes or sick reporting till July 13, the appointed day for further hearing of the case.
Reprimanding the Indian Pilots Guild, which is representing the striking pilots, the High Court observed that Air India is a public utility services company and that such a company cannot be held to ransom by using methods like a strike or sick reporting.
The Air India management had earlier argued before the court that inter-union rivalry between erstwhile Air India and the Indian Airlines was the reason behind the strike.
According to the management, there were two aircrafts at the centre of the controversy - the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Boeing 777 - and who should be trained on them. The unions were not in agreement whether pilots from Air India or Indian Airlines should be trained on the two aircraft.
A decision was taken that the training on the Dreamliner would be in the ratio 1:1 and that had already begun.
Aggrieved by this decision, the Indian Pilots Guild moved the High Court and the Indian Commercial Pilots Association moved the Supreme Court.
On April 23 the Supreme Court said that the training in the 1:1 ratio would continue. Despite this order the Indian Pilots Guild went on strike as a pressure tactic against the training parity.
The management argued that the strike has led to hardship for thousands of passengers, and in times of difficulties, it is creating a huge loss for the airline.
It further pointed out that modus operandi adopted by the pilots was to report sick.
Earlier, Aviation Minister Ajit Singh warned that the government might consider downsizing the national carrier if the agitation by the pilots continued.
"Government has given them Rs. 30,000 crore of public money but that is not without strings. They have to prove their worth. Let me point out the example of Kingfisher. They downsized and since then they are doing fine. Air India only has 17 per cent market share. The pilots must look at this also," Singh said.
More than 150 pilots of Air India remain on strike. They began calling in sick early on Monday morning.(ANI)
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