New Delhi: Air travelers and airport authorities across India woke up to a chaotic Wednesday when employees of airline Indian went on an indefinite nationwide strike, disrupting air traffic and throwing flight schedules off gear.
An estimated 12,000-strong ground staff – including check-in staff, ticketing staff, baggage handlers, loaders – are demanding promotional parity with their Air India counterparts post merger.
Though the airline management declared the strike illegal, passengers were in for a tough time as most service counters remained shut and major flights were either delayed or cancelled.
The affected metros included Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
While about 15 flights scheduled out of Delhi till 0800 hours departed on time, IC 429 (Delhi To Chennai) and IC 526 (Delhi To Bangalore) were delayed.
Sources at the Bangalore airport told CNN-IBN that additional staff has been called in to take care of the problem. Only two flights took off since morning as opposed to an average of 19 flights that take off from Bangalore airport daily.
Sources also say baggage was being cleared and passengers were being sent in for check-ins.
Chairman and Managing Director of 'Indian' Viswapathi Trivedi held talks with the agitating workers at the Delhi airport. However, the talks failed as no solution was arrived at.
General Secretary of Air Corporation Employees' Union (ACEU) told news agency PTI that 75 per cent of the operations had been affected across the country due to the strike.
"Cabin crew across the country has joined the agitation along with about 12,000 ground staff, including check-in employees and loaders, who began their flash strike last night," Badola told PTI.
The discontent among the Indian staff has been brewing for some time now. The ACEU, which is spearheading the strike, had held talks with the management of the airliner a few months ago and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had then asked the management to work out a solution.
However, nothing was done and ACEU claims it is still willing to sort is out. "We are open to talks. We are ready for settlement. We are urging the management not to be adamant as we cannot put pressure on passengers. But we also have to find a solution to our problems," Badola was quoted as saying.
The strike did find some supporters in the red brigade with CPIM-M backing the protestors. CPI leader and MP Gurudas Dasgupta alleged that the 'Indian' management has not taken care of the workers' interests.
"I support this strike. The management has been rigorously, outrageously anti-worker. They have not taken care of the interest of the workers," Dasgupta was quoted as saying by PTI.
'INDIAN' HITS INDIA
|NORMAL DEPARTURE TIME||EXPECTED TIME|
IC 601 - Delhi-Lucknow
|8:55 am||Not known|
IC 942 - Delhi-Hyderabad
IC 865 -Delhi-Mumbai
|10:00 am||12:00 pm|
IC 806 - Delhi -Varanasi
|10:50 am||12:50 pm|
IC 429 - Delhi-Chennai
IC 899 - Delhi-Guwahati
|10:25 am||12:00 pm|
IC 809 - Delhi-Ranchi
|11:00 am||1:00 pm|