Indian Pilots’ Guild ready for talks; no commitment on calling off strike

The pilots appealed to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to intervene in the issue

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: May 13, 2012 12:23 am

The Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG),which represents pilots of Air India before it merged with Indian Airlines,on Saturday expressed its willingness to “unconditionally hold talks” with the Air India management about their ongoing strike but did not make any commitment about calling it off.

The pilots appealed to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to intervene in the issue even as they apologized to passengers for the inconvenience caused on account of the deadlock. IPG representatives told reporters at a press conference in Mumbai that the “ball is in the management’s court now”.

“Nobody strikes work unless there is a long history of confrontation involved… The management has made no effort to deal with merger-related issues,” senior IPG member Tauseef Muqaddam told reporters. “We reiterate that we are willing to talk and we are not making specific demands for that. If this is construed as a softening of stand,so be it.”

Meanwhile,IPG president and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jitendra Awhad expressed confidence that civil aviation minister Ajit Singh would help find an amicable solution.

“We are ready to take a hundred steps,but the management should also show some initiative,” he said. To a question on why the union did not give an official notice to the management before stopping work,Awhad claimed that they had informed the management of their planned agitation.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) late Saturday issued notices to 11 office bearers of IPG after the airline management sought cancellation of their flying licences. The 11 pilots have been given a week’s time to file their reply,sources in the DGCA said.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh also reached out to the Opposition and meeting two of his predecessors,Shahnawaz Hussain and Rajiv Pratap Rudy,to find a way to resolve the crisis in the ailing national carrier.

Singh also called upon the pilots to consider the plight of passengers and said “we are ready for talks but they must call off their strike”.

“The first priority must be to make sure that the passengers feel they are being listened to. So let the pilots decide that. Ask for forgiveness from passengers. Start the flights … we can talk on anything after that,” Singh said.

(With PTI)

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