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Air India hit by walk-out


5/27/2010

More than 20,000 Air India employees went on a nationwide wildcat strike on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest against an alleged ruling preventing staff from commenting on the recent plane crash in Mangalore. According to an Economic Times report, the airline was forced to cancel 50 domestic and international flights on Tuesday, while a further 76 services were affected yesterday, including flights to Singapore, Bangkok and Dubai.

The national carrier denied it had issued any gagging order however, saying that employees had “misinterpreted” a previous directive. The company said it issued an order last year advising staff to “desist from going public with their statements that have the potential of harming the company’s revenue earning prospects”.

Union leaders argued however, that strike action was also taken over delayed payment of salaries. Staff at the national carrier have long-held grievances about salary payments, ex-pat pilots, and more recently, the lack of crew facilities at the new terminal at Delhi airport.

The strike is expected to have cost the struggling national carrier approximately INR1 billion (US$21 million) over the past two days. A court order has ruled the strike illegal, and around 10,000 of the striking staff are expected to return to work today.

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