Responding to reports that Air India has sacked 300 striking pilots after Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh cracked the whip, agitating Air India pilots affiliated to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) on Monday said they had not received any information on employment termination from the airline.
However, Ajit Singh denied having recommended the sacking of the striking pilots. “I have not recommended sacking of pilots, it is for Air India to decide,” Singh told CNN-IBN in an interview.
The Civil Aviation Minister said that the airlines management has to decide for how long they want to keep the striking pilots on their payroll when they had not been working for over a month now.
“It is for the Air India management to take action now. These pilots have not come to work for more than 30 days….It is an illegal strike. They have defied the High Court,” he said.
He said that the Government had repeatedly requested the pilots to come and join the airline. “We have requested them again and again to come and join the airlines. But they did not.”
He also said that Air India crisis is such that the airlines can’t even pay their employees. “Govt has provided a package of Rs 30, 000 crore which will be based on their performance. But it doesn’t seem they are interested in it, because recently they said they’ll not even accept Dharmadhikari report also,” Singh said.
On being asked if sacking the pilots would create a vacuum, Singh said they have been running Air India flights for the last 35 days without the striking pilots. “For 35 days we have running 75 percent of the Air India flights without them. There is already a vacuum, but we are managing without them.”