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Chaos prevails at airports as AAI staff strike work

About 22,000 workers across the nation are protesting against privatisation.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 12:18 IST

Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees began their indefinite strike on Wednesday to protest the "privatisation" of Delhi and Mumbai airports.

About 22,000 employees across the country will not report to work.

The striking workers, shouting anti-Government slogans, took out demonstrations at the airport and said they would continue their agitation till the Government rolls back its decision.

"Unless and until the Government heeds to our demand to withdraw its decision to privatise Mumbai and Delhi airports, we will not stop our agitation. We are ready to go to the extent of even sacrificing our lives," Branch Secretary, Airport Authority Employees Union, Pramod Sharma said.

"We are not against modernisation. We are only opposing handing over the process to private players. The Airport Authority of India is fully capable to do that," he said, alleging that the government is implementing a "secret agenda".

The AAI officers association also started a relay hunger strike to protest the Government decision to award the airport contracts toGMR and GVK led consortia.

Though Air Traffic Controllers are not on strike, the ATC guild has expressed solidarity with the agitating workers.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had on Tuesday said the Government would not invoke Essential Services Maintanence Act (ESMA) against the striking workers.

The assurance came after CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury threatened that if ESMA was invoked the battle would transcend the boundaries of trade unions and become a political one.

Airport operations normal in Chennai

Services at Chennai airport was not disrupted on Wednesday morning despite a strike called by employees to protest the privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports.

Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials said all the three morning flights to Delhi and two each to Mumbai and Bangalore operated on schedule.

AAI General Manager, Operations, S Subramanian said that there has been no disruption in operations at the airport.

"We are ready to implement the contingency plan in the event of employees going on strike. We will ensure that all the facilities in the airport will function normally", he said.

Police and CISF were on full alert and some Indian Air Force personnel have been kept on standby, he said.

National Airports Division Regional Director Dr Ramalingam, said there has been no disruption of services like air traffic control and movement control in any of the airports in South India.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 00:32 IST