New Delhi/Mumbai: The impasse over the Air India pilots' strike continued on Saturday, with the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), leading the protest, saying it had warned the government earlier about their discontent over several issues facing the national carrier.

Claiming that their agitation was not spontaneous, the derecognised Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) said, "We would like to clarify that all efforts were made by the IPG to contact and apprise the Minister and the Ministry officials of the volatile situation at the airline."

The statement came a day after five IPG pilots called on Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, who warned them that the airline may hire new pilots if they refuse to call off their agitation that started 20 days ago.

Singh, who met the pilots for the first time since the strike began, also bluntly told them that the mounting losses due to the agitation may make it difficult for the airline to pay the wage arrears to all employees by June as promised.

The IPG had last night said that their meeting with the Minister "did not culminate in any mutually acceptable solution", clearly indicating that their strike will continue.

Air India Board is slated to meet on Monday to review the situation arising out of the strike, apart from financial matters.

In a statement on Saturday, the IPG said, "After the meeting with the Minister on Friday, IPG members were of the impression that he was upset for not having been approached by the IPG before going on with the agitation."

"We would further like to clarify that on the evening of May 7, (Civil Aviation Ministry) joint secertary Prashant Shukul, along with senior Air India officials, were apprised of the failure of talks between the management and the IPG," the Guild said, adding these developments forced them to go ahead with the agitation.

The statement said the IPG had also written to the Minister five days before the agitation, explaining the entire situation and seeking his urgent intervention.

The pilots, who started reporting 'sick' and refusing to join duty since May 7, are seeking reinstatement of 101 sacked colleagues and resolution of issues relating to their career progression.

While the Delhi High Court has restrained them from going on strike or reporting sick and asked them to return to work, the Bombay High Court has also ticked off the IPG for persisting with the strike by defying court orders, thereby inconveniencing passengers.

(Agencies)

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