11 pilots on hunger strike in India

June 24, 2012 at 8:20 PM
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NEW DELHI, June 24 (UPI) -- Eleven Air India pilots embarked on a hunger strike Sunday in an effort to get the airline to reinstate 101 of their fired colleagues, a union official said.

Rohit Kapahi, a committee member of the Indian Pilots' Guild, said the 11 protesting pilots have vowed not to eat for an "indefinite" period, The Times of India reported.

"Our protest [hunger strike] is only for the reinstatement of our sacked colleagues and for the reputation of our union," Kapahi said. "We want to bring the strike to an end as soon as possible."

About 440 pilots went on strike since May 8 to protest management's decision to train pilots from the former state-run Indian Airlines, which merged into Air India in February 2011, on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing-787 Dreamliner. Air India subsequently fired 101 union pilots.

In an attempt to solve the labor stalemate, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had invited the pilots to return to work June 6 and said the sacked pilots would be reinstated on a case-to-case basis, The Times of India said.

"We are not waiting for them for ever. We earlier asked them [pilots] to come back and said that no one will be victimized," Singh said. "We had even given a chance to sacked pilots that they can also come back and we will take them back on a case-to-case basis."

The strike was in its 48th day Sunday.

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