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AI Cancels 76 Flights, Unions To Hold Talks With Mgmt

Air India on Wednesday cancelled another 76 domestic and international flights across the country leaving thousands of passengers stranded on the second day of the strike by the airline's engineers and ground staff.  With the
PTI May 26, 2010 16:00 IST
PTI

Air India on Wednesday cancelled another 76 domestic and international flights across the country leaving thousands of passengers stranded on the second day of the strike by the airline's engineers and ground staff. 

With the management late last night threatening stern action including termination of service if the stir continued, the agitating Air India unions appeared to strike a conciliatory tone and decided to hold talks with the management over the gag order issue which mainly sparked off the nation-wide flash strike yesterday. 

Yesterday, at least 50 domestic and international flights were cancelled while several others were delayed by over two hours. 

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at Air India counters at several airports as passengers voiced their anger at the disruption of flights. 

Amid reports that the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke to Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and called for some tough action against the errant employees, the Union leaders were to meet Air India Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav in the Capital. 

Patel is also expected to brief the Union Cabinet on the strike that has severely disrupted the services of the state-owned airline during the peak holiday season with passengers facing a harrowing time. 

"We have been invited by the management for talks and we are going to attend it. We will also meet the Chief Labour Commissioner and place our demands," Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) General Secretary J B Kadian told PTI here. 

Government also said that its employees can use the private airlines for official tours and for availing the Leave travel Concession(LTC). Earlier, the Government order was that the employees msut travel only in Air India. 

Around 20,000 employees, including engineers, went on a nationwide flash strike yesterday to protest Air India's gag order--a circular prohibiting union leaders from going public with their demands, according to Union leaders. The demands included issues relating to payment of salaries. 

With the striking employees unrelenting on their demand for withdrawal of the gag order and the show cause notices to a few union leaders, the AI management toughened its stand late last night threatening to even terminate services of the employees if they did not call off the stir. 

Air India has announced full refund to passengers whose flights were cancelled and made arrangements for hotel accommodation and local transport to those in transit. 

The Air India management earlier made an emotional appeal to the employees asking them to return to work at "this hour of crisis" following the crash of one of its planes in Mangalore last Saturday in which 158 lives.

Air India on Wednesday moved the Bombay High Court seeking a direction restraining its employees from continuing their strike.

However, the vacation bench of the High Court, comprising Justices S J Kathawala and R G Ketkar, declined to grant relief in the absence of the other party. The court asked the national carrier to give notice to the employees' union and adjourned the hearing till May 28. PTI