Committee formed to look into pilots demands

New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi on Monday set up a three-member committee to consider the demands of the agitating Air India pilots and appealed to them not to go on strike on Wednesday.

In turn, leaders of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) which has given a day notice on March 9, said they would consider the appeal at a meeting of their Central Executuive Committee.

The development came after the ICPA leaders met the Minister, along with Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav and Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi, late this evening and discussed their demands including pay parity.

"I have appealed to them to withdraw their strike and they in turn have said that they would decide after meeting their Central Executive committee," Ravi told reporters after a two-hour long meeting with the ICPA representatives.

A tripartite talk between Air India managment, agitating pilots and Central Labour Commissioner is scheduled tomorrow.

"I gave them a patient hearing to understand their issues and told them a three-member committee, headed by a retired Judge, has been formed to look into the issues raised by them," Ravi said, adding the names of the committee members would be announced tomorrow.

The ICPA, which represents around 800 pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines, had served a 14-day strike notice, under Section 22 of the Industrial Disputes Act to airline CMD Arvind Jadhav, charging the management with having failed to address their grievances and violated agreements on issues like pay parity and better working conditions.

The union claimed "various dates and deadlines have come and gone and the management has failed to keep its promises and assurances". As a result, the erstwhile Indian Airlines` pilots have been "incurring heavy financial losses".

The ICPA also alleged "racial discrimination in their own country perpetrated by the national carrier", indicating the differences in pays and perks offered to the expatriate pilots Air India has kept on its rolls.

Apart from differences in salaries and working conditions of pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India, the ICPA members are also protesting instances of delay in payment of salaries, "violation" of a Memorandum of Settlement signed in November 2009 and the management`s "failure" to implement the 6th Pay Commission recommendations.