Mumbai: Once again, within a span of three months, a section of Air India pilots have refused to turn up to work citing health concerns. About 100 pilots strike work from Monday night following the failure of talks with the Air India management, Indian Pilots Guild sources said.
   
"The management (Air India) on Monday completely backtracked from what had been agreed upon in the last 2-3 days. Therefore, we are left with no option but to intensify our agitation," sources told here.

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Disappointed over the management's attitude, some 100 odd pilots have already join the agitation and the Guild expects the number to swell to 250-300 by Tuesday, they said, indicating the flights operations could be hit severely in the coming days.
   
Five international flights were cancelled so far on Tuesday. These include flights from Delhi to Chicago, from Mumbai to New Jersey, from Delhi to Toronto and from Delhi to Hong Kong.
"The management (Air India) completely backtracked from what had been agreed upon in the last 2-3 days. Therefore, we are left with no option but to intensify our agitation," sources said.
 Earlier, the management held meeting with the pilots in New Delhi in its bid to defuse the crisis, arising out of the rescheduling of the dreamliners training programme.
   
On Saturday, a section of pilots reported sick, apparently to protest the move, resulting in the cancellation of one international flight and delaying another two by almost 16 hours.

Strike illegal, says Ajit Singh

Reacting strongly against the strike by the 100-odd pilots of the AI, uinion Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, it is 'illegal' and the pilots should come forward for talks instead of 'putting passengers in distress.'

"They are free to come forward with their grievances but they can't just call in sick. The money that the government gives to Air India depends on performances; there's a time period involved. This strike is illegal. They are reporting sick; they have not given any notice for strike. They can come forward for talks but can't put the passengers in distress," Singh said on Tuesday and cautioned them to call off strike immediately.

It is understood that during their meeting on Monday, the airline management told the pilots that they had no reasons to strike work at a time when the government had announced a bailout package for the national carriers.
   
The management is also said to have told the pilots to wait for a solution till the Justice D M Dharamadhikari Committee report is implemented by the government.
   
"No time is good for agitation. But at times things come to such a passe when agitation is the last resort to get the pending issues resolved," the Guild sources said.

JPN/ Agencies

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