| A stranded passenger at the Calcutta airport. Picture by Aranya Se
New Delhi, June 13: Delhi High Court tonight held the Indian airline ground staff strike “prima facie illegal”.
The order came after a management decision to suspend 27 employees failed to end the strike that disrupted schedules across the country.
The court asked the employees to resume duty at the earliest and restrained them from staging demonstrations, indulging in sloganeering or other modes of protest within a 200-metre radius of the Delhi airport.
The workers were told not to restrain passengers from visiting Indian offices.
The management has been directed to communicate the court order to the workers. However, the union leadership told PTI around midnight that no order has been received and the strike would continue.
The Calcutta airport was the worst hit with cabin crew joining last night’s strike by ticket clerks, baggage-loaders and back-office workers over payment of arrears and longer working hours.
“If they don’t withdraw the strike, we will rethink on paying arrears. The airline is not economically sound and will suffer more because of loss of goodwill,” civil aviation minister Praful Patel said.
But the union would not relent. “We will not succumb to pressure. We will face suspension rather than withdraw the strike,” Air Corporation Employees’ Union general secretary J.K. Badola said.
“Wage revisions for the last 10 years are pending and workers haven’t got their dues,” he added.
As horror stories poured in from various airports, a spokesperson for Indian tried to paint a not-so-grim picture, saying 96 of 192 flights had taken off on time. Thirty-one were delayed and 62 cancelled.
“The worst affected city was Calcutta, where some cabin crew joined the strike. Mumbai was the second while Delhi fared the best among the metros,” the official said.
However, in Delhi too, harried passengers were seen waiting for hours to get baggage scanned and checked in.
Indian has requested passengers to travel light and confirm flight schedules by calling its toll-free numbers 1800, 180 and 1407.