Unfazed by the government threat to suspend them, 'Indian' employees on Wednesday said their strike will continue but expressed readiness to hold talks with the airline's management on their demand for wage revision and better promotion prospects.
Air Corporation Employees' Union (ACEU) members, who went on a flash strike late last night, however, ruled out any talks with Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, whom they accused of "conspiring to help private airlines".
"We will never succumb to the minister's pressure. We will face suspension than withdraw the strike," ACEU General Secretary JK Badola, told reporters in New Delhi.
He said the strike will continue till their demands were met.
Badola said the union did not back the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India as the management had backed out totally on the assurances given to us in the early negotiations.
Badola claimed that the union and the airline management have almost reached an agreement on promotions and wages. He accused Patel of "pressurising" the airline to refrain from finalising the agreement.
He said the revision of wages and promotion has not been effected since 1997.
"The management could not settle the wage-related issues for the last 10 years and this time we will not withdraw our strike on any assurances," he said.
Badola said the Indian Airlines employees were in the lowest paid category and deprived of any wage revision as has been the case with Air India employees.