Analysis on Air India strike on May 2012


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This report throws light on the pilot hunger strike by AIG on may 2012 by Air India employees,causes,results and relevent court orders.

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Analysis on Air India strike on May 2012

  1. 1. A Case on Air India’s Pilot Strike of May 2012CONTENTS 1) Company background of Air India 2) History 3) The merger into Air India 4) Financial Crisis of Air India 5) The chronology of the Air India strike may 2012 6) Highlights of the strike: Management’s view and the Union’s view 7) Causes for the strike 8) Effects of the strike 9) Interview of former executive director of Air India: Jitender Bhargava 10) Conclusion: My understandings from the case 11) ReferencesSubmitted By:Ragavendra.B09MBI050Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  2. 2. Batch (2)Company BackgroundAir India is the flag carrier airline of India. It is part of the government of India owned AirIndia Limited (AIL). The airline operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving Asia,Europe and North America. Its corporate office is located at the Air India Building atNariman Point in South Mumbai. Air India has two major domestic hubs at Indira GandhiInternational Airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. An international hub atDubai International Airport is currently being planned.Air India has the fourth largest share in Indias domestic air travel market, behind JetAirways, IndiGo and SpiceJet, as of May 2012.Following its merger with Indian Airlines, AirIndia has faced multiple problems, including escalating financial losses, discontent amongstemployees, and poor customer service. Between September 2007 and May 2011, Air Indiasdomestic market share declined from 19.2% to 14%, primarily due to stiff competition fromprivate Indian carriers. In August 2011, Air Indias invitation to join Star Alliance wassuspended due to its failure to meet the minimum standards for the membership. In October2011, talks between the airline and Star Alliance have resumed. In April 2012, the Indiangovernment granted another bailout package to Air India, including Rs300 billion ($5.8billion) of subsidies.Early yearsTata Sons, a division of Tata Sons Ltd. (now Tata Group) was founded by J. R. D. Tata in1932. Tata Airlines initially consisted of one Puss Moth aircraft, one Leopard Moth, onepalm-thatched shed, one whole time pilot assisted by Tata and Vintcent, one part-timeengineer and two apprentice-mechanics.Initial service included weekly airmail service with a Puss Moth aircraft between Karachi andMadras via Ahmedabad and Bombay, covering over 1,300 miles. In its very first year ofoperation, Tata Airlines flew 160,000 miles, carrying 155 passengers and 10.71 ton of mail.In the next few years, Tata Airlines continued to rely for its revenue on the mail contract withthe Government of India for carriage of surcharged mail, including a considerable quantity ofoverseas mail brought to Karachi by Imperial Airways. The same year, Tata Airlineslaunched its longest domestic flight - Bombay to Trivandrum with a six-seater Miles Merlin.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  3. 3. In 1938 it was re-christened as Tata Air Services and later same year was renamed as TataAirlines. By this time Delhi and Colombo were also serviced.Post-war expansionFollowing the end of World War II, regular commercial service was restored in India andTata Airlines became a public limited company on 29 July 1946 under the name Air India. In1948, after the independence of India, 49% of the airline was acquired by the Government ofIndia, with an option to purchase an additional 2%. In return, the airline was granted status tooperate international services from India as the designated flag carrier under the name AirIndia International. On 8 June 1948, a Lockheed Constellation L-749A named MalabarPrincess (registered VT-CQP) took off from Bombay bound for London Heathrow via Cairoand Geneva. This marked the airlines first long-haul international flight, soon followed byservice in 1950 to Nairobi via Aden.On 25 August 1953, the Government of India exercised its option to purchase a majoritystake in the carrier and Air India International Limited was born as one of the fruits of the AirCorporations Act that nationalised the air transportation industry. At the same time alldomestic services were transferred to Indian Airlines (now renamed as Indian). In 1954, theairline took delivery of its first L-1049 Super Constellations and inaugurated services toBangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore.Early 1990sIn 1993, Air India took delivery of the flagship of its fleet when the first Boeing 747-400named Konark (registered VT-ESM) made history by operating the first non-stop flightbetween New York City and Delhi. In 1994 the airline was registered as Air India Ltd. In1996, the airline inaugurated service to its second US gateway at OHare International Airportin Chicago. In 1999, the airline opened its dedicated Terminal 2-C at the renamed ChhatrapatiShivaji International Airport in Mumbai.2000 – presentIn 2000, Air India introduced services to Shanghai and to its third US gateway at NewarkLiberty International Airport in Newark. In May 2004, Air India launched a wholly ownedlow cost airline called Air-India Express. Air India Express connecting cities in India with theMiddle East, Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent. In 2004 Air India launched flights to itsRagavendra.B09MBI050
  4. 4. fourth US gateway at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles (which has sincebeen terminated) and expanded its international routes to include flights from Ahmedabad,Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad.On 1 December 2009, Air India introduced services to its fifth US gateway at WashingtonDulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., accessed via a stopover at JFK Airport inNew York City. This service has been terminated.Re-privatisation plansIn 2001, the Government of India put forward plans on privatizing Air India. One of the bidswas by a consortium of Tata Group-Singapore Airlines. However the re-privatisation planswere shelved after Singapore Airlines pulled out and the global economy slumped.Merger with Indian AirlinesIn 2007, the Government of India announced that Air India would be merged with IndianAirlines. As part of the merger process, a new company called the National AviationCompany of India Limited (NACIL) was established, into which both Air India (along withAir India Express) and Indian Airlines (along with Alliance Air) will be merged.On 27 February 2011, Air India and Indian Airlines merged along with their subsidiaries toform Air India Limited.Financial crisisAround 2006-2007, the airlines began showing signs of financial distress. The combinedlosses for Air India and Indian Airlines in 2006-07 were 770 crores (7.7 billion). After themerger of the airlines, this went up to 7,200 crores (72 billion) by March 2009.This wasfollowed by restructuring plans which are still in progress. In July 2009, SBI Capital Marketswas appointed to prepare a road map for the recovery of the airline. The carrier sold threeAirbus A300 and one Boeing 747-300M in March 2009 for $18.75 million to survive thefinancial crunch.As of March 2011, Air India has accumulated a debt of Rs. 42,570 crores (approximately $10billion) and an operating loss of Rs. 22,000 crores, and is seeking Rs. 42,920 crores from thegovernment. For the past three months (June, July, August 2011), the carrier has beenmissing salary payments and interest payments and Moody’s Investor Service has warnedRagavendra.B09MBI050
  5. 5. that missing payments by Air India to creditors, such as the State Bank of India, willnegatively affect the credit ratings of those banks. A report by the Comptroller and AuditorGeneral (CAG) blamed the decision to buy 111 new planes as one of the major causes of thedebt troubles in Air India; in addition it blamed on the ill timed merger with Indian Airlinesas well.Due to high fuel and loan costs, Indian government has already pumped 32 billion rupees intoAir India since April 2009 and in March 2012 government bailed out Air India Ltd. With67.5 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) which the amount almost double of the federal governmenthas spent on new hospitals over the past three years. Air Indias corporate headquarters islocated at the Air India Building at Nariman Point in South Mumbai. The airline moved therein 1970. The Air India Building also serves as a regional office for Indian. As of 8 May 2012the carrier invited offers from banks to raise up $ 800 million via external commercialborrowing and bridge financing. This was stated in the documents put up on the carrierswebsite.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  6. 6. THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE AIR INDIA STRIKE MAY 20121) On May 8, 2012 about 100 pilots went on medical leave as a mark of protest while their talks with the management were still on. 2) The reason the pilot members of IPG went on mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines 3) Later, the same day it sacked ten agitating pilots and de-recognized their union after 160 pilots failed to join duty by the given deadline4) After putting forth an original list of 14 demands, the aviators are now asking for reinstatement of their 101 sacked colleagues 5) On the 15th of May, the Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh stated that the Government was giving Air India one last chance and that it must perform in order to qualify for a bailout.6) On May 26, 2012 Aviation minister Ajit Singh announced that he would go ahead and hire new pilots if the strike did not end soon.7) While, AI management gave an assurance to Delhi High Court that it would look into the hardships of the pilots sympathetically, the striking pilots have decided to end the 58 day old strike immediately.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  7. 7. 8) Due to pilots strike Air India suffered a loss of 500 crores (US$90.5 million) in 45days. Eventually, following the intervention of the Delhi High Court, the pilots called off their 58 day strike on 4 July 2012.HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STRIKEThese are the critical events and features that happened during the course of the strike. Itincludes the actual dialogues and excerpts as quoted to the press media including personalinterview, online interview and other sources 1) Air India pilots strike the longest pilot stir in 40 years. 2) Strike of Air India pilots illegal: Ajit Singh 3) Air India crisis: Government in no mood to reinstate all sacked pilots 4) Pilots strike: Air India loses Rs 500cr, extends contingency plan till July 5) Air India management could have prevented the strike 6) Air India has been harmed by its owner, the government 7) Air India suffers loss of Rs 600 crores due to 58-day pilots strike: Ajit Singh 8) Air India pilots end strike after 58 days 9) The Reason behind Air India Despair (A) AIR INDIA PILOTS STRIKE THE LONGEST PILOT STIR IN 40 YEARS. The hunger protest by the pilots of Air India (AI) entered its sixth day on Friday (29TH June 2012). The pilots have been on strike for more than 50 days now, making it the longest running pilots strike in the last 40 years. They went on strike on May 8 to protest against the airlines decision to train the erstwhile Indian Airlines (IC) pilots for the soon-to-be inducted Dreamliner aircraft. The union of the AI pilots, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) was derecognised by the airline when they went on strike. UNIONS VIEW: The derecognised unions released a press note saying that the strike is the longest strike in the last 40 years. In 1993, pilots of IC had gone on strike and the airline had adopted the same indifferent approach. To replace the pilots, the airline recruited more pilots from Uzbekistan airways.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  8. 8. The airline, then, started dialogue with the pilots on strike and they were back to work in a week. ""This means that if the airline wants, it can open dialogue with the pilots. The idea is to resolve differences, improve working conditions and service more passengers,"" an airline official said. (B) STRIKE OF AIR INDIA PILOTS ILLEGAL: AJIT SINGH LUCKNOW: Terming the strike of Air India pilots as illegal, Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh appealed the pilots to resume work. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of new terminal at Amausi airport, Ajit Singh said that the ministry will solve the problems within a period of three months. The government has already given a package of Rs 30,000 crores for the revival of Air India. But, money alone cannot solve the problem. The airline has to be competitive and pay attention to the cost, he said, and added that no solution is possible by creating loss or causing inconvenience to the passengers. The government will not adopt a victimisation policy, and whatever problems they have will be sorted out in three months, he said. MANAGEMENT’S VIEW: "Efforts are being made to resolve the situation. It is my appeal to the pilots that they should think about the passengers," the civil aviation minister said, and added, "If passengers are unhappy, it would create more problems in days to come. If the airline does not survive, then there is no meaning of other things like salary, promotion or increment." The on-going protest by the Air India pilots had forced the carrier to curtail its international flight operations, particularly those to North America and Europe. It was following the protest that the ailing national airline lost around Rs 200 crores. Saturday was the 12th day of strike called by pilots. Ajit Singh also expressed his concern over the high taxes on aviation turbine fuel. The fuel invites a tax of 40% to 50% in India, whereas in foreign countries it is around 35%. It is the cost of fuel that needs to be looked into considering the passenger traffic and rising trade, he said.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  9. 9. (C) AIR INDIA CRISIS: GOVERNMENT IN NO MOOD TO REINSTATE ALL SACKED PILOTS Even as the Delhi High Court on Monday pulled up the Air India management for delaying reinstatement of the 101 sacked commanders out of the 450 striking pilots, the government remains firm that restoration of jobs of the terminated pilots would be on a case-to-case basis. The court has asked Air India to seek direction from the Centre and respond by Wednesday (July 18) on whether the committee set up to look into the reinstatement of sacked pilots can resolve the issue within four weeks. One of the members of the Indian Pilots Guild, the union that went on strike on May 7, said the court accused Air India of "sitting on conciliatory proceedings," adding that it was a very good day for them. However, the government remains stiff on its earlier stance that the cases of pilots will be looked into individually. "Air India has been asked to respond on considering reinstatement of sacked pilots. Consideration doesnt mean taking everyone back," a senior official from the civil aviation ministry. Such a response comes in the wake of governments plan to rationalise Air Indias international operations further, leading to a reduction in the total number of pilots for overseas routes by 40%. "There were a total of 750 pilots for flying on international routes before the strike and we never needed so many. Now the requirement is for only 400-450 pilots as per our new plan," another official from the aviation ministry said. During the nearly two- month-long strike, the AI management had sacked 101 of the 450 pilots and currently the agitators and the company are negotiating over how to reinstate them. Sector players say the airline is not only using this opportunity to cut excess flab but also send out a message that the government will be tough on those who jeopardise operations, especially at a time when the airline is struggling to stay afloat and has just received Rs 30,000-crores bailout funds.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  10. 10. According to Air India officials, its not just the fact that the airline would now require fewer pilots, but many of them also stand to lose their licences if they are unable to clear the medical tests the company plans to put them through. "Pilots who have claimed sickness for two months have been asked to submit medical reports. But verification of the two-month long sickness and related tests and reports may catch pilots on the wrong foot," a company official said on anonymity. As per Rule 42 (2) of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, the holder of a licence shall not exercise the privileges of his licence without being declared fit after a fresh medical examination in the event of his having "a sickness or injury involving incapacity for a period of fifteen days or more for which he is licensed..." According to a letter by the Director-General of Medical Services (Air), prescribing the procedure on sickness examination, the medical department of Air India will apply for a no-objection certificate (NOC) to Director of Medical Services at DGCA for each pilot. (D) PILOTS STRIKE: AIR INDIA LOSES RS 500CR, EXTENDS CONTINGENCY PLAN TILL JULY Cash-strapped Air India has suffered a loss of around Rs 500 crores due to the 45- day-old pilots strike, forcing the airline management to extend its curtailed international flight plan till July 31. Air India has lost around Rs 500 crores in terms of revenue in the on-going strike, as the airline has been incurring losses to the tune of about Rs 10 crores per day, sources told PTI today, a day after Air India CMD Rohit Nandan said the national carrier was also "making some substantial savings". "It was not possible to calculate the savings now, as we have to fulfil our commitments to our vendors on quarterly or half-yearly basis. At least we are making savings on some of the flights like Delhi-Toronto, on which we were losing Rs 300 crores annually," he had said. The on-going stir has forced the airline management to extend its contingency plan for the fourth time, since the strike began on May 7, till July 31. "We have decided to extend our interim schedule for international flights, as part of our contingency plan, till July 31 or unless the strike is called off before that day," anRagavendra.B09MBI050
  11. 11. Air India official said. Under the interim schedule, Air India would operate 38 international flights per day instead of 45 that it operates under normal conditions. Domestic operations of Air India are also being run normally and there have been no disruptions due to the present agitation, he said. (E) AIR INDIA MANAGEMENT COULD HAVE PREVENTED THE STRIKE: The causes that triggered the strikeCause 1 :The latest decision taken by the Air India management on the Boeing 787Dreamliner issue is yet another example of mismanagement and political interferenceinvolved in running of this government-backed carrier. It questions a critical decision takenby the airline management which trigged off the 58-day pilots’ strike that wrecked theairlines flight schedule during the peak travel season. The management were unable toanswer the following questios in light of the strike: i. Why was the airline management in such a tearing hurry to send pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines (IC) to train on the B787 aircraft?The first batch of IC pilots were sent by the airline management to Singpaore for B787training on May 6. In response, the pilots from erstwhile Air India (AI) went on a strike fromMay 7 onwards. Now the 32 IC pilots are back after completing their B787 training. But theairline management has asked them to do a refresher course and go back to flying A320aircraft, which is the one they flew before they were sent for the Dreamliner training. ii. So what was the point in rushing the IC pilots for B787 training? Had the management not rushed with its decision to send IC pilots for B787 training, the AI strike would not have happened.The B787 training had turned into a contentious issue as it was the first aircraft-type forwhich the management decided that pilots from both the sides of the merged airline thosefrom the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines respectively, that is would be sent to train onit and fly it. Since all the aircraft orders were placed before the merger the norm followed inRagavendra.B09MBI050
  12. 12. the merged airline till then was that Indian Airlines pilots would train and fly the aircraftordered by Indian Airlines and vice versa.Now, the B787s were ordered by the erstwhile Air India and so the airline management wasin talks with pilots from the erstwhile Air India to solve their career progression worries asthey would have to share their B787 pie with Indian Airlines pilots. But even before the talkscould reach a conclusion the management, without a warning, decided to rush IC pilots forB787 training on May 6.Cause 2: "That was the only reason the strike broke out. Had they reached an agreement withthe AI pilots on their career progression issue before sending the IC pilots for training thestrike would not have happened, said an airline top official. Had Air India been a privateairline then the officials who took the decision to send the IC batch of pilots to train on May 6would have had some tough questions to answer. But it is a government-carrier and it hastaxpayers money to bail it out. AI insiders contend that its a give and take. After all, theydish out a lot of freebies to the politicians and the government. (F) AIR INDIA HAS BEEN HARMED BY ITS OWNER, THE GOVERNMENT: An interview with the former executive director of Air India: Jitender Bhargava  Why so many pilot strikes taken place in Air India lately? Has the management been insensitive to pilots’ concerns, forcing them into unreasonable behaviour? In the present case, what should the management do to appear reasonable in dealing with the pilots whose strike was declared illegal by the judiciary? Though AI has been reeling under heavy losses, there have been three strikes by pilots in the last three years. No demand, no matter how genuine, can justify a strike in today’s situation. Successive managements have also been insensitive to issues raised by the unions. This is because of a weak HR setup, lack of structured policies and their inconsistent application. The management has taken decisions under duress, appeasing one section of employees at the expense of others.  Should an airline tolerate overpaid pilots taking medical leave en masse on false pretexts and leave passengers — who pay through their nose — in the lurch?Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  13. 13. Some of the pilots’ demands, such as they should decide who should be allowed to train on the new generation aircraft, sound absurd.While pilots should follow the industrial laws applicable for strikes, they earn salaries thatappear huge to a common man but are largely in tune with global standards. If there is a caseof overpaying the pilots, the management personnel who have signed such obnoxiousagreements should be held guilty and accountable. As regards training of erstwhile IndianAirlines pilots on B787s, a decision ought to have been taken guided solely by the interests ofthe airline.  Should fat-salaried pilots be deemed to be workmen and allowed to go into trade union action?Well-paid pilots certainly don’t deserve to be deemed “workmen”, but the description haslegal validity. AI had for years drawn the attention of the authorities to this anomaly, but tono effect.  The root cause of much of the strife in AI seems to be the 2007 merger (of Indian Airlines and Air India) that led to the formation of a unified carrier. Can the two sets of employees think of themselves as one unit?Merger is undoubtedly at the root of the current problems. Although HR issues were cited asproblems before it was decided to merge, these were not addressed. The civil aviationministry, which was to guide the merged entity in resolving parity and other issues, appointedthe Justice Dharmadhikari Committee for the purpose only in May 2011, three years andeight months after the merger. Who is accountable for this lapse? Or, did the ministry wish tolet the merged Air India embroil itself in problems?  Will the implementation of the Dharmadhikari report cure the HR-related ills of AI? Will wage cuts work?It is unlikely that implementing Dharmadhikari committee’s recommendations will helpaddress the HR concerns. AI may, in fact, witness the sinking of employees’ morale evenfurther. This was an important committee but its report does not raise any expectations.It was said that implementing the report will result in a saving of Rs 250 crores in the wagebill, but this seems unlikely as the cost neutrality principle has been violated in many of theRagavendra.B09MBI050
  14. 14. recommendations. The report is neither just nor sound from the point of view of managingthe airline productively and efficiently  In view of the massive bailout package for Air India from the taxpayers’ money, do you think that the Turnaround Plan (TAP) for the airline —monitored by the government — will succeed?As long as the inherent weaknesses of the management structure (board of directors, chiefexecutive, senior management), and of the work culture, are not addressed, no TAP cansucceed. Mere infusion of funds is unlikely to help as the management structure responsiblefor AI’s decline in recent years (through faulty policies) has been given the job of turning theairline around. This is ironical.The reason why the airline has been consistently losing market share and figuring way downin terms of on-time performance and load factor amongst all airlines should have beenstudied for remedial action if the TAP were to have any chance of success.  Is it time to sell the national carrier? Will there be takers?Air India can be salvaged if structural changes in management can be made and professionalsare allowed to run it on commercial terms. There is no hope as long as civil servants manageit with constant interference from the ministry. With its current level of losses and debt, AIcannot be a good business proposition for a potential buyer. (G) AIR INDIA SUFFERS LOSS OF RS 600 CRORES DUE TO 58-DAY PILOTS STRIKE: AJIT SINGH NEW DELHI: Air India has suffered a loss of around Rs 600 crores due to the recent 58-day-long strike by its pilots, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said today. "The total loss of revenue already caused to Air India due to prolonged strike by the pilots is approximately Rs 600 crores," he told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply. He said a section of Air India pilots represented by Indian Pilots Guild started reporting sick from May 7, in protest against the managements decision to train pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines to fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  15. 15. The minister said due to the strike the national carrier had to restructure its operations and operate 39 international flights against 46. He also informed that Air India management has derecognised the pilots union and terminated the services of 98 pilots. In reply to separate question, Singh said, "No recruitment action has been initiated by the Air India management."He also said Justice Dharmadhikari Committee had given its recommendations and the government has sent it to Air India management for implementation. "Air India has also prepared a Voluntary Retirement Scheme for its employees," Singh said. (H) AIR INDIA PILOTS END STRIKE AFTER 58 DAYS Legal proceedings involved in the end of the strike The 58-day protracted strike by Air India pilots was called off on 4th July after the Delhi high court asked them to join duty within 48 hours and the management to sympathetically consider their grievances. The decision to end the strike was announced by the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) after a meeting of its managing committee in Mumbai. In the late night statement, the IPG thanked the Indian judiciary, especially the Delhi high court, "for mediating in this issue, which is critical to the survival of Air India and is in the national interest". "We the pilots of Air India and members of the Indian Pilots Guild, on the intervention of Honble Justice Ms. Reva Khetrapal of the Honble Delhi high court have started the procedure to resume work," the IPG statement issued after the meeting said. It said that as directed by the high court, the IPG looked forward to negotiations with the AI management on all pending issues in the presence of the chief labour commissioner.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  16. 16. "We sincerely hope that the AI management and the civil aviation ministry will be as sincere on their part. On this understanding, we are commencing the process of restoring normalcy of operations," said IPG general secretary E A Kapadia. The IPG statement came after its counsel, Geeta Luthra, told the high court that the striking pilots numbering 434 will join their duties in 48 hours. During the two-hour-long court proceedings, the judge said the pilots are not "goondas or criminal elements. You consider their grievances after talking to them." "The senior counsel (Luthra) appearing for the pilots has said that her clients will immediately call off the strike and join their duties in 48 hours, by giving joining reports or the report expressing their willingness to join the duty. "The AI management shall sympathetically consider the grievances of the pilots including the aspect of reinstatement of those pilots whose services were terminated as a consequence to their strike," Justice Khetrapal said while disposing of the pilots plea for a direction to the AI management to take back the 101 sacked pilots, including 10 IPG office bearers. Earlier, the IPG welcomed the high courts order. "The court has made very positive observations. It has said that all pilots should be taken back and no distinction should be made between those sacked and others. We are happy with the courts observations," IPG joint secretary Tauseef Mukadamn said. The pilots went on strike on May 7 over demands for better career progression. The airlines management took a tough stand sacking 101 pilots including 10 office bearers of the IPG which was also derecognised. Justice Khetrapal, who also sought a report from the conciliator by July 9, was hearing an application of the IPG which had alleged that the management has created a "hostile environment" by sacking the striking pilots and also derecognising it. The court directed the pilots as well as the management to appear before the conciliator, chief labour commissioner N K Prasad, on July 6 at 4.30pm.Appearing forRagavendra.B09MBI050
  17. 17. the management, Bhasin said the court should not entertain the pilots plea as they are in contempt. He submitted the management is ready to talk to the pilots once they call off their strike. "They are in complete disobedience of the courts orders for the last two months and they need to call off the strike first before talking to the management regarding their demands. "Let the counsel for the pilots make a statement before this court that they are ready to call off the strike today. They should not make any pre-condition to call off the strike. First they should obey the courts order and then talk to the management," Bhasin said. To this submission, the court asked the pilots to call off their strike.CONCLUSION: MY UNDERSTANDING ON THE STRIKE  Air India crisis has shocked the whole nation .Pilots refusing to fly while Management refusing to talks has disturbed the air traffic of India so much that people are now relying on Trains for any Business Class Travel needs.  Air India is at war, with itself. There are two systems working side by side in the flag carrier and the current pilots’ agitation, if anything, exposes that.  In 2007, the government had merged Air India (AI) and Indian Airlines (IA) to make one of the largest airlines in the world by fleet-size and manpower. Five years down the road, it has come not to be.  Insiders today say that though they sit in the same offices and share a common brand name, the split is wide open, as two systems compete to run one airline.  Not just pilots and the cabin crew, even managers and junior staff from both sides fight over allowances, pay scales and even holidays.  On the surface, it looked like an issue with the pilots. But when contacted by IANS, even the cabin crew-in-charges, cargo managers and other functionaries voiced the same resentment over the merger.Ragavendra.B09MBI050
  18. 18.  “The merger created problems that cannot be solved. Our grades, work, promotions and allowances are different. When you see your colleague from the other cadre doing the same work, but getting easy promotions, allowances, there is bound to be resentment,” a senior official with the operations arm told this correspondent on condition of anonymity.  “The company below the rank of DGM (deputy general manger) is not at all integrated. There are two systems of promotions, allowances and even foreign postings.”  Another official with the airline’s cargo division said the problems started when the two systems collided. AI was following a system under which the department head has the discretionary power to promote and the promotions are time- bound, while IA had a strict Human Resources (HR) code of interviews and written tests.  “These are just initial problems. Once the Dharmadhikari report is implemented, I don’t know what criteria it has but if it comes with the rider that the pay scale would be criteria for seniority, promotions will be a major problem.”  Not just that. In the pilots case, while a commander of AI gets Rs.8 lakh per month that of IC gets Rs.3 lakh per month. Even a bare minimum flying allowance of 80 hours is granted to AI pilots while it is only 72 hours given to IA pilots.  “In this case there is also an issue of promotion. We don’t get to fly as much as our IC counterparts do, thereby reducing our flying hours and a chance to get to the higher grade,” said an agitating pilot.  Both sides also play the blame game by stating that overseas assignments as station officers are restricted for IA officials as traditionally they only had three foreign branches.  No one knows what the report by Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari submitted in January actually has suggested. Details are not available, but it is understood to have talked about the mess in the airline and has made recommendations on such critical issues like career progression, integration across various cadres, rationalisation of pay scale, allowances and incentives and overall restructuring of the entire staff of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India.―Therefore it can be understood the root of the problem is with the untimely andmisjudged merger of the two airlines that has been the primary reason for the neverending ordeal of Air India. Measures have to be taken up so as to conclude theRagavendra.B09MBI050
  19. 19. misunderstandings between the management and the unions, if this is not feasible thenit is time that the Airlines split from their troublesome merger as suggested by industryexperts so as to the root problem will be hence solved. This will prove to be ratherbeneficial to the airlines, the government and the public as well‖References:            The Wall Street JournalRagavendra.B09MBI050