AI strike continues, govt sacks 30 pilots

Air India sacked 30 more striking pilots on Monday, as the agitation by over 200 pilots entered the 14th day with no signs of a resolution to end the impasse. 'The services of 30 more pilots have been terminated,' AI spokesperson said. With this, the number of dismissed pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) has gone up to 101.

The AI crackdown came on a day when the civil aviation minister Ajit Singh met leaders of 10 recognised airline unions in Delhi and appealed to them to persuade the IPG to call off their strike.

Pradeep Dhobley, the general secretary of AI Engineers' Association, said that the unions also jointly urged Singh to 'come out with a compromise formula and assure that the sacked pilots would be reinstated'.

The airline management claimed that two pilots of the now derecognised IPG resumed duties on Monday taking the total number of 'sick' pilots getting back to work to five.

The IPG, which has been derecognised in the wake of the current agitation, was not invited for the meeting. It has been demanding that problems relating to pilots' career progression be sorted out forthwith.

'I had convened this meeting [with the unions] to listen to their views. We discussed the current situation facing Air India, the Turnaround and Financial Restructuring Plans and the airline's future,' Singh told reporters after an over 90-minute meeting. 'I sought the support of all the unions to restore its financial health and its earlier 'Maharaja' status,' he said.

Singh said the recommendations of the Dharmadhikari Committee, which went into all issues pertaining to HR integration like pay parity and career progression, would be implemented only after all the unions are consulted.

In a statement, the unions said the issue of pilots strike came up during their talks with Singh. 'The unions requested the minister to take a compassionate view and reopen discussions with IPG to end the impasse as this was peak holiday season and it was bad for the airline.'
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