NEW DELHI, June 24 (IANS): Eleven striking pilots of Air India Sunday went on an indefinite hunger strike demanding the reinstatement of their 101 sacked colleagues.
"Eleven pilots belonging to Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) are sitting on an indefinite hunger strike from today (Sunday). Our protest (hunger strike) is only for the reinstatement of our sacked colleagues and for the reputation of our union. We want to bring the strike to an end as soon as possible," Rohit Kapahi, committee member of IPG, told IANS.
The Air India management earlier sacked 101 pilots belonging to the IPG. Around 440 pilots had struck work since May 8 against the management move to train pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines in the merged entity on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing-787 Dreamliner.
The pilots' announcement on their "Anna-type" protest fast assumes significance as this will be one of the first instances in the country where highly paid professionals such as pilots would sit on a hunger strike.
However, the government has been giving feeler to the pilots to end the strike. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh June 6 had invited the pilots to come back and resume their duties first and that they (sacked pilots) will be reinstated on case-to-case basis.
"We are not waiting for them for ever. We earlier asked them (pilots) to come back and said that no one will be victimised. We had even given a chance to sacked pilots that they can also come back and we will take them back on a case-to-case basis," the minister earlier told IANS.
The strike Sunday entered its 48-day and has reportedly caused a revenue loss of Rs.530 crores.