New Delhi: Four more Air India pilots have broken away from their striking colleagues and reported back on duty on Monday, sources said. With the coming back of the four the total number of pilots who resumed their duty has risen to seven. The three pilots had reported for duty on May 16.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh is likely to hold talks with all recognised Air India unions with the pilots' strike entering its 14th day on Monday.
The Indian Pilots Guild is not a part of the 13 unions invited for talks, as it already been derecognised.
"It is more for familiarisation to get to know them. Unions have a very important role to play not only about their demands but they should also look at the whole picture and health of their organisation," Singh said.
The protestors want sack orders against 71 pilots to be withdrawn and issues relating to career progression addressed immediately.
It will be attended by representatives of the Indian Commercial Pilots association, cabin crew, ground handlers and other employees.
"Government has given money to Air India and fixed a lot of check points and performance standards. They will have to understand what life is about in an era of competition," Singh said on Sunday on being asked whether any solution is being worked out to end the deadlock.
The national carrier operated a curtailed international schedule, flying seven West-bound flights instead of normal schedule of 16 daily flights, Air India sources said.
Singh had on Saturday appealed to the agitating pilots to return to work, saying their demands would be considered. He had also said that the ongoing strike has been declared illegal by the Delhi High Court and keeping in mind the inconvenience caused to thousands of passengers, they should resume duty. He had also assured them that the government will not be vindictive.
The airline has so far lost about Rs 200 crore due to the agitation by over 200 pilots reporting 'sick'. IAF medical facilities in various parts of the country, including Bangalore, Delhi and Jorhat, have been beefed up to conduct their full check-up by medical boards after they complete 14 consecutive days of remaining 'sick' on Monday.
(With additional information from PTI)