Supreme Court rejects Air India's contempt plea against pilots'
New Delhi, May 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a contempt plea of the management of national carrier Air India, saying that the airline and the pilots need to sort out their differences at the negotiating table.
Air India had on Thursday moved the Supreme Court to order the airline's striking pilots back to work, three days after the latter had gone on strike.
While the pilots and their representative body-The Indian Pilots Guild-refused to call of their strike, saying that they were concerned about career progression, a tough Air India management filed a contempt plea in the apex court, saying that the pilots were defying a Delhi High Court order to call off their strike immediately and return to duty to ease passenger inconvenience.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh is meeting the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss a way out of the current impasse, and hopes the Air India pilots would call off their strike after the Delhi High Court declared the stir illegal.
"I am not aware of anything. I have no information. All I can say is the High Court has given a very clear order, the judgement is very clear about the illegality of the strike and about that sick leave. Now, let's hope pilots follow the high court judgement," he said.
Singh further emphasized that this move of the pilots was hurting the credibility of the national carrier.
"Reaching out to me, all it takes is call off the illegal strike. From day one, I have been saying everything is negotiable, at least we can talk. In fact Dharmadhikari Report when it is implemented, all the issues they are raising will come up. The Dharmadhikari Report has already considered all those issues. Still they want to discuss, they are welcome," he said, while responding to a question that the guild has sent out a press release giving indications for negotiations.
"But again let them make sure that Air India doesn't lose credibility. Passengers are not inconvenienced," he added.
Former Supreme Court Judge Justice D. M. Dharmadhikari, who headed a four-member committee on integration of thousands of employees after the merger of two State-owned carriers - Air India and Indian Airlines - submitted his report to Singh earlier this year.
The report takes into account the views of the pilots, cabin crew and engineers on integration of about 29,000 employees of Indian Airlines and Air India, which were merged five years ago into unified Air India.
Singh had earlier on Tuesday termed the pilots action to be illegal and unjustified.e said the government is trying to bail out the national carrier, and that pilots being the most powerful employee in any airline should behave more responsibly.
The pilots' strike has entered its third day today. Over 20 Air India flights were cancelled today from Delhi and Mumbai. The pilots remained defiant despite the High Court's order, and said the agitation would continue till their demands were met.
Passengers are the worst hit by the pilots' agitation. They allege that they are not being informed about the cancellation of their respective flights in advance.
Around 160 Air India pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) had reported sick on Tuesday, resulting in the cancellation of at least 13 international flights.
Air India had earlier this week sacked ten agitating pilots, de-recognised their union and sealed its offices, as around 160 of them failed to join duty.
A concerned Air India management had earlier met the pilots in New Delhi in a bid to defuse the crisis. (ANI)
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