New Delhi/Mumbai, Jun 27: Three striking Air India pilots were hospitalised today as their condition worsened on the fourth day of their indefinite fast demanding withdrawal of sack orders against 101 pilots and better career progression prospects.
Persisting with their strike for the 51st day, the agitators accused the airline management of not being keen to resolve the impasse by “steadfastly refusing” to talk to them. “We are on hunger strike for the past 96 hours.
We request the government to listen to us as our demands and our protest action are genuine,” a leader of the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), spearheading the agitation, said here. Government has made it clear that the striking pilots should return to work unconditionally while the agitators are insisting that they would do so only after the termination orders were revoked.
IPG sources alleged that despite AI's own doctors certifying that some fasting pilots needed hospitalisation, the management has made it clear that only those, who have not been sacked, would be treated by the company.
With their indefinite hunger strike in Delhi and Mumbai which commenced on Sunday continuing, two among 12 pilots, who have been on fast in Mumbai, and one of the 15 pilots in Delhi were hospitalised on doctor's advice as their condition worsened.
Those shifted to a government hospital from the Azad Maidan were Capt Parin Pandit and Capt Ruchir Mathur, while Capt Hari Shankar was shifted to RML hospital from the agitation venue Jantar Mantar in Delhi.
Over 400 IPG pilots have been on strike since May 7. The IPG, in a statement, accused the management and the government of not taking any initiative to break the deadlock but only making statements in the media.
It said management representatives “refused to even meet the representatives of the pilots, and instead, insisted on meeting separately with the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner.
“Therefore despite his best efforts, the Deputy CLC was not able to broker a compromise to put this agitation to an end, and he was forced to adjourn the proceedings,” the IPG
claimed and charged the management and the ministry with continuing to “maintain their stance of not talking” to them.
In a statement, IPG said, “we request the Hon'ble Minister and/or the AI management to tell us the time and place that they would want to meet with us, and we will be there.
“For the sake of the passengers we are willing to walk the extra mile to find a resolution to this dispute, we hope that the Ministry and the AI management feels the same way.”
Recalling that in 1993, the erstwhile Indian Airlines management had replaced its striking pilots with those from a foreign airline and a Tupolev-154 aircraft had crashed at the Delhi airport, the IPG claimed that the management had then immediately started talks with the agitators. “In the context of the current agitation, is the ministry and the AI management waiting for such a disaster before they start talking to the pilots,” the IPG said.
The pilots have sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to end the impasse as Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh asked them to return to work “unconditionally”. The airline is estimated to have lost about Rs 530 crore due to the agitation.
The airline, which has been operating a curtailed international schedule, has resumed operations to Tokyo and Shanghai and plans to launch flights to Hong Kong, which were stopped due to the pilots' strike.
It is also going ahead with plans to start a new flight to Kuala Lumpur and resume Seoul-Osaka operations in August and fly to Australia by September end as the process to recruit more pilots went ahead.