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Air India restores bonus, pilots to continue strike
Published on 27 Sep. 2009 11:21 PM IST
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National carrier Air India Sunday agreed to restore the productivity-linked incentive (PLI) to placate its agitating senior pilots but they refused to call off their strike. Even as the management offered the olive branch after five-hour talks, the pilots have demanded that they also be paid their three-months arrears. “The management has agreed to reverse PLI but they haven’t made any commitment to pay our three-months arrears. We will call off our strike only when the airline assures us of this,” Captain V.K. Bhalla, who is representing the agitating senior executive pilots, told IANS. A senior airline official said a committee would be constituted to look into the the PLI modalities. Around 400 senior executive pilots have threatened to go on mass sick leave to protest the airline’s decision to cut their incentives. At least 33 flights, including international flights, were cancelled Sunday, the second day of the strike. Eleven flights were cancelled Saturday as several pilots failed to report for duty. “International flights from Delhi to Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Kathmandu and a few other destinations were cancelled as some pilots put on duty did not report for work,” an Air India official told IANS. The beleaguered carrier Wednesday decided to slash the PLIs of employees by 25 to 50 percent as part of its cost-cutting measures. The airline’s current debt is about Rs.16,500 crore and its losses stood at Rs.7,200 crore in fiscal 2008-09 that ended March 31. Meanwhile, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sunday condemned the national carrier’s decision to slash the wages and PLI of its pilots and demanded the government’s intervention in the Air India strike. “The country knows that Air India incurred losses due to wrong policies of the government and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. It is ironical that instead of making the minister accountable for the present state of affairs of Air India, the pilots and workers are made to suffer,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said. “Instead of taking any action against the minister, the government has allowed Air India management to hold (the) staff responsible for the present mess in Air India. This is the worst injustice heaped upon the workers who are still working honestly,” he added. The BJP spokesperson further said: “(The) BJP demands immediate withdrawal of pay cuts imposed upon pilots and others.” The party also demanded a white paper on the reasons for the present financial status of Air India.

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