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Chief tells Air India to perform or perish

IANS
Jul 03, 2009 at 07:49pm IST

New Delhi: Air India chairperson and managing director Arvind Jadhav has asked employees, who went on a two-hour strike Friday, to be prepared for harsh decisions necessary to deal with the financial crisis the carrier faces.

"Considering the critical financial state of the airline, we should all be prepared to face the impact of harsh decisions that will be required to be taken in the coming weeks to meet the current difficult financial situation," Jadhav said in a communication.

Calling for an urgent need to have a better understanding of ground realities, he said:

LOSING CAPITAL: Civial Aviation Minister Praful Patel warns Air India not to depend on government bailout.

"It appears that the gravity of the financial situation has not seemingly sunk in all of us."

Air India is in a financial mess having incurred a loss of Rs.4,000 crore last fiscal, forcing Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel to approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a Rs.10,000-crore (about $2-billion) bailout package for the beleaguered carrier.

"Wages and salaries need to be disbursed every month, fuel costs and bank liabilities have also to be paid on time, failing which our operations could stop," Jadhav said.

The statement came after Air India employees went on a two-hour strike at airports across the country Friday to protest against the delay in payment of their salaries and warned of further agitation.

Under the management's proposal, the first tranche of payments will go to lower grade employees within two days, while the others will be paid July 15.

But employees are unimpressed, and maintain that the management had backtracked from its June 29 commitment that salaries would be paid July 3.

"If they (airline management) have delayed salary by a day or two, why don't they give this in writing?" asked ACEU general secretary J B Kadian.

Various unions have also demanded a meeting with the management. They have also said they could resort to similar agitation later till they got their salaries.

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