A proposed strike by almost all sections of Air India employees next Tuesday on various demands, including implementation of agreements relating to wages and cadre policy, has been declared illegal.
After a meeting today, top officials of the the Civil Aviation Ministry and the National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), which runs Air India, decided to "take serious view" if the employees went ahead with their threat, official sources said.
They said the March 18 strike, called by the Joint Action Committee comprising eight unions including those of the pilots, was "illegal in view of matter being under conciliation with the Labour Commissioner".
Annoyed over "non-implementation" of assurances on their demands, all the major unions of Air India decided to strike for a day, saying the sale of the state-owned company was "imminent" in the present scenario.
In a notice to the national carrier's CMD V Thulasidas, eight unions representing almost the entire range of employees said they would go on work-to-rule and hold gate meetings and walkout as a build-up to the strike.
The notice said steps were being taken which amounted to "a systematic sabotage of the national carrier" and added that "poor planning, non-implementation, poor decisions and execution at the highest level have led the company to losses in the last six months."
The unions also blamed the government's "irrational" aviation policy for "encouraging" the private sector and reducing the importance of the national carrier. "Even the flight schedules of NACIL are not drawn according to the market dynamics to give stiff competition to private operators."
"In view of the above, it is obvious that selling of the company is imminent," the notice said.
AI officials said negotiations were being conducted with the unions and these would go on to avert any protest action by the employees.