The strike of the pilots of Air India was withdrawn on July 3, 2012, following the intervention of the Delhi High Court.
This strike was called by the Indian Pilots’ Guild when the Central Government officers in charge of Air India went back on their promises on 7th May. It lasted for almost two full months. The 440 youthful pilots who were on strike revealed great determination and resolve to fight for their rights in the face of organised slander propagated by the corporate media and the Central Government.
When the Civil Aviation Minister taunted the pilots that hunger strike was “good for their health”, implying that they were overpaid and overfed, the pilots responded by converting their 48 hour relay hunger strike into an indefinite hunger strike.
The pilots have reiterated their basic demands to the Chief Labour Commissioner, which is that (i) their Union be re-recognised, (ii) the 101 striking pilots who were dismissed be taken back unconditionally, (iii) that salary arrears since January be paid, and (iv) the discussions on salary structure and promotions, which were abruptly broken on 7th May, be resumed.
Representatives of the Civil Aviation Ministry and Air India management have committed to the Delhi High Court to discuss the grievances of the pilots, in front of the Chief Labour Commissioner, and report to the Court on the results.
This struggle of all sections of Air India workers is not only a struggle in defence of their own rights, but also in defence of the general interest of society. Their struggle is against the anti-social policy of liquidating and privatising this biggest airline company in the country. The strike in May 2011 by the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines had in fact clearly exposed the Central Government’s plan to deliberately create losses, to pave the way for privatisation.
The Central Government, acting in the interest of the biggest monopoly capitalists who are eager to acquire Air India cheaply, is trying to exploit the differences among different sections of workers so as to weaken their united struggle against privatisation. While Indian Airlines and Air India have been merged at the top, the grades and salary structures have been kept separate for the two sets of workers. Moreover, the government deliberately chooses to negotiate with different sections of workers separately, so as to fuel jealousy and competition among them.
Mazdoor Ekta Leharcongratulates the pilots of the Indian Pilots’ Guild for having withstood the offensive of the ruling class and stuck to their basic demands. MEL calls on all workers of Air India and the erstwhile Indian Airlines, including pilots, cabin crew, engineers and maintenance staff, to unite and coordinate their struggle against the liquidation and privatisation plan of the ruling bourgeois class.