Sunday, February 25, 2024

Govt to take back sacked pilots on ‘case-by-case’ basis


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New Delhi: Making an attempt to end the over two-week impasse, Government on Wednesday offered to take back 101 sacked Air India pilots on a case-by-case basis and made a fresh appeal to the protesters to return to work even as the Delhi High Court slapped contempt notices on 67 pilots and their union for disobeying court orders.

“There is no bar on taking anybody back but it will be done on a case by case basis,” Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told reporters here.

“We have said it again and again that we are willing to talk and I have committed that in Parliament. Please come back to work. There will be no victimisation,” he said.

“They are not willing to talk unconditionally. They have conditions. It is an illegal strike,” Singh said, adding that Air India management was taking “whatever action they need to take”.

With the agitating pilots refusing to get back to work, the AI management moved a contempt petition in the High Court, accusing them of “flagrant violation” of the court order which had declared the strike as illegal.

While issuing notices to 67 pilots and the Indian Pilots Guild, spearheading the agitation by over 200 pilots which has spilled over to the 16th day, Justice Reva Khetrapal hoped better sense will prevail on them.

“Nobody is concerned with the plight of the passengers as somebody might have to see a person on a death bed… Some must have missed an important meeting or an important interview,” she observed.

The matter will now come up on July 13. Following the day’s developments, the IPG said they were willing to straightaway talk to the minister if the sack orders against 101 pilots were withdrawn. IPG Joint Secretary Tauseef Mukadam said, “We are absolutely ready to talk to the Honourable Minister…We are willing to go right now.”

Asked what will be the way out, Mukadam said, “We don’t want our core demands to be met right now. Take back the pilots and give us an assurance that these demands will be discussed. … We are not putting a gun on anyone’s head or ever intend to do so. We are willing to join duty right now. It can be done in 15 minutes.” So far, services of 101 pilots have been terminated for reporting sick and not joining duty. The airline management is disinclined to take back nearly a dozen office bearers of the IPG, which has been derecognised.

“There is a clear disconnect between what the Minister has said in Parliament that there will be no victimisation and what the management was doing by sacking 101 pilots,” Mukadam said. (PTI)


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