AI employees withdraw strike call

New Delhi: The threatened strike by a major chunk of Air India`s over 28,000 employees from Monday was called off today with the ailing national carrier promising to clear all their salary and other dues by June.

"We received their (strike) notice today. We have given them a payment schedule under which we will clear all the overdues by June. The strike has been called off," Air India CMD Rohit Nandan told reporters after a meeting with union representatives here.

The notice for `no pay, no work` agitation had been given by eight major unions of the airline, representing pilots, engineers and cabin crew among others, to protest the delay in payment of their salaries, productivity-linked incentive (PLI) and other allowances by over three months.

The union leaders and the management had held a marathon day-long meeting yesterday which had failed to yield any result. Both sides had decided to meet again today. The unions had earlier sought the Prime Minister`s intervention to resolve the crisis, failing which they had threatened to go on agitation from April two.

Earlier too, the management had promised a staggered payment schedule to clear the dues in the next two months, expecting that by then Air India would get funds through the equity infusion of Rs 4,000 crore announced in this budget.

The unions, however, had remained unsatisfied and had decided to go ahead with their protest action, saying they had not received any "firm" assurance on their dues.

Air India faces a whopping Rs 67,000 crore debt and has reported a loss of close to Rs 6,900 crore this fiscal. The airline was also facing an average operational loss of about Rs ten crore daily.