The debt-laden national carrier Air India is set for more troubles beginning next month with 200 of its pilots, who have not been paid their dues for the past four months, threatening to go on strike from April 2.
The strike warning came after three rounds of talks between pilot unions and the management failed yesterday. At the meeting, the pilots reportedly sought written commitment from the management that it will clear all their dues before April 1. The management, say sources, assured them that they would be given their salaries on time from next month and that their arrears would also be cleared soon. The unions, however, rejected this offer.
"We are firm on our decision to go ahead with the strike from April 2, for which we have given notice months ago. We will reverse our decision only if our dues are cleared before April 1. We don't believe in any of verbal assurances from the management," a senior Indian Pilots Guild official told the Press Trust of India.
Other Air India unions, including those representing engineers, officers, ground staff etc have reportedly also threatened to strike work from April 2 over non-payment of salaries.
The airline's management has requested them not to go on strike as it will hurt the airline in the holiday season, an Air India spokesperson said. "But the unions are adamant to go ahead with their proposed strike," he added.
The official however did not answer a query on why the management was not ready to give the unions a written commitment on payment of dues.
When asked about the standoff, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, "They have not been paid, they have problems. Air India has the backing of the government of India, so they will get paid soon."
But with the pilots unwilling to agree to any verbal guarantees, both domestic and international operations of the national carrier could see severe disruptions next month. (With PTI Inputs)