Air India employees continue hunger strike, talks fail

Air India employees continue hunger strike, talks fail

Wednesday, 26 August 2009, 11:36 Hrs
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New Delhi: Air India employees' hunger strike in protest against delayed salaries and cuts in incentives continued for the second day Wednesday while marathon talks between workers and the airline management failed to break the ongoing impasse.

The talks that started Tuesday evening continued till Wednesday early morning, but ended without any solution, union officials said.

"Our meeting with the Air India management continued even after 2 a.m. today (Wednesday). Of the 12 unions, only the Air India cabin Crew Association has accepted the salary cut," said J.B. Kadian, General Secretary of the Air Corp Employees Union (ACEU).

The cash-strapped Air India has not paid the salaries of some employees this month. It also announced Aug 20 that it would cut the performance-linked incentives of the employees by 30 to 50 percent.

Agitated by the airline's decision, around 20,000 employees of the national carrier started a three-day hunger Tuesday across various airports in the country.

The airline Tuesday agreed to immediately release the salaries, but is not ready to revoke its decision to cut incentives.

"The hunger strike is continuing. We will strike tomorrow (Thursday) also," Kadian said.

He said if the management remained adamant, the employees would go on strike again next week.

The striking employees, about half of Air India's staff strength, are affiliated to two major unions -- the ACEU and the Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG). The rest are members of other unions.

An Air India spokesperson said in Delhi that the flight operations have not been impacted by the strike.

"The deadlock continues today. But our flight operations are normal," the official said.

According to him, another round of talk between the top management and the workers is impossible as the Chairman and Managing Director, Arvind Jadhav, has left for Mumbai after Tuesday night's talks collapsed.

Air India is estimated to have suffered a loss of 7,200 crore in 2008-09. It is currently overburdened by its working capital borrowings of 17,000 crore and has overdrafts from 15 banks.

The carrier had earlier come under severe criticism for offering huge incentives to its 31,000 employees, even while it was suffering losses.
Source: IANS
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