Three flights each from Kolkata and Mumbai and four from Delhi were cancelled as the employees, including engineers and ground staff, staged demonstrations at various airports to protest the delay in payment of salaries for the month of May
At least 10 flights of Air India (AI) were cancelled today as a section of employees of the airline, including engineers, went on a flash strike across the country to protest delay in payment of salaries, reports PTI.
Civil aviation minister Praful Patel held a meeting with Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav to take stock of the situation, official sources said.
Three flights each from Kolkata and Mumbai and four from Delhi were cancelled as the employees, including engineers and ground staff, walked out of their offices this afternoon and staged demonstrations at airports in different parts of the country.
"We have begun a flash strike to protest the delay in payment of salaries and highlight the problems of the cabin crew, after the management refused to pay heed to our demands," Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) general secretary J B Kadian told reporters in New Delhi.
Air India had recently decided that the May salaries would be delayed by a week.
Kadian said the management had issued "gag order" against leaders of all unions of Air India by asking them not to go public with their problems and termed the move as "anti-democratic".
The ACEU claims representation of 12,000 members of the erstwhile Indian Airlines including ground-handling and technical staff and cabin crew.
In Mumbai, ACEU president Dinakar Shetty demanded an immediate withdrawal of the "gag order" saying that it was an infringement on the right to freedom of speech. The employees would not return to work unless the order was withdrawn, Mr Shetty said.
An official circular, issued last evening, said "instances have come to the notice (of the management) that contrary to instruction issued under office order HQ-81-3/360 July 2009, 13 employees of the company holding positions of office-bearers of unions/associations/guild are freely airing their views to the media despite channels of communication existing with the company to voice their grievances.
"Employees concerned are advised to forthwith refrain from going public with their statements that have potential to harm the company's image and revenue prospects, failing which action as deemed appropriate will be taken," the circular said.
The union had served a strike notice on the management and the Chief Labour Commissioner on May 15 against Air India's decision to defer salary payments. However, that notice had called for a strike from 31st May.
Unions belonging to the international wing of Air India have not gone on strike on this issue so far.
ACEU is part of the Civil Aviation Joint Action Front (CAJAF), a joint platform of 11 recognised trade unions in National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL).