Airport crew threatens wildcat strike
Air passengers should stand warned. The Airports Authority Employees Joint Forum could go on a flash strike any day. And they can?t give any notice.india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 02:02 IST
Air passengers should stand warned. The Airports Authority Employees Joint Forum could go on a flash strike any day. And they can’t give any notice.
Reason: In September last year, the unions gave the government adequate notice and went on a day’s strike. But the government took steps to bring them under the ambit of the Essential Services Maintenance Act, according to sources. While the government acted for the greater good of the public, the fact remains that unions are no longer in a position to give notice should they want to go on strike.
That, in conjunction with their grievance — the government’s refusal to consider the forum’s alternative proposals for modernisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports — makes for a Catch 22 situation where the unions have to go on strike to mark their protest but can’t do so for fear of attracting action under the Act.
The forum doesn’t want to cause any inconvenience to the passengers, if it can help it. Its convenor M.K. Ghosal and other office-bearers decided against any action on or around January 26 as a mark of respect to Republic Day. “For the September strike too, we gave sufficient notice so everyone knew about it and no inconvenience was caused to passengers,” Ghosal told HT.
That time around, the strike had been a general strike called by the Left parties to protest the privatisation move. The forum had only joined in and hence, no action could be taken against its members under ESMA.
But this time, the forum has only the option of a flash strike as a general strike requires preparation, campaigning and lobbying for support from other unions — not something that can take place each time.
On its part, the civil aviation ministry has apparently prepared a contingency plan to cater to any flash strike, should the unions announce one. With over 20,000 employees from various categories — ground handling staff, luggage handlers, engineering, communications, maintenance — affiliated to AAI unions under the umbrella banner of the Airports Authority Employees Joint Forum, the strike, if it happens, is bound to affect air services. And the ministry wants to be fully prepared.