Left, unions meet PM; told no worker will be sacked | india | Hindustan Times
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Left, unions meet PM; told no worker will be sacked

THE PRIME Minister's appeal notwithstanding, AAI unions continued their strike on Day Three but with a hint that it may be called off on Saturday morning after an inter-union meeting. The convener of the AAI Employees' Joint Forum, M.K. Ghosal, told reporters after a meeting with the representatives of various unions that the decision on whether or not to continue with the strike would be taken after another meeting on Saturday.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2006 01:57 IST

THE PRIME Minister's appeal notwithstanding, AAI unions continued their strike on Day Three but with a hint that it may be called off on Saturday morning after an inter-union meeting.

The convener of the AAI Employees' Joint Forum, M.K. Ghosal, told reporters after a meeting with the representatives of various unions that the decision on whether or not to continue with the strike would be taken after another meeting on Saturday.

On Friday, following a 90-minute meeting of the unions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said the PM had made it clear that the government would not reverse its decision to modernise the Mumbai and Delhi airports through joint-venture participation.

The PM, he said, had reassured the unions and the Left leaders who backed them that "no employee will lose their jobs". "The PM has personally appealed to the unions that they should call off the strike," said Patel. "He has reiterated that the AAI is not being privatised."

In addition to the assurances from the two successful bidders -- the GMR-Fraport and GVK-South Africa consortiums -- Patel said "we'll try and speak to them to absorb even more employees". He repeated his earlier statement that the two consortiums had undertaken to absorb 60 per cent employees, about 7-8 per cent were expected to retire and the remainder would continue to be with the AAI.

Ghosal told reporters, "We've placed our concerns before the PM and asked him to form a committee not comprising any ministers to consider our alternate proposal for modernisation".

Ministry sources, however, said even if such a committee were formed, it would only consider the proposals for other airports and not for Delhi or Mumbai. The day witnessed hectic parleys between the two sides. First, Singh met the Left leaders. An announcement was then made of another meeting, this time with AAI union representatives present.

This second meeting lasted over two hours and it was initially rumoured that the PM would be able to persuade the unions to call off the strike.

Even at 6 p.m., when Ghosal said he would place the PM's appeal before other member unions, the AAI management was hopeful that the strike would be called off by Friday night.

An hour later, however, the unions announced that they were not withdrawing the strike.