AAI Employees Call Off 5-day-old Strike

New Delhi, September 23: | Updated: Sep 24 2003, 05:30am hrs
Airports Authority of India employees have called off their five-day-old nationwide agitation against the recent government decision to privatise the New Delhi and Mumbai airports, following a government assurance to set up a committee to look into their concerns.

A committee will be constituted which will draw up the terms and conditions for the proposed restructuring after a dialogue with the employees and representatives of the Airports Authority of India unions. A consultative committee will forward the concerns of the employees to the empowered committee so that they can be addressed in the concession agreement, civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy told the press here on Tuesday.

The proposed panel will forward the concerns and views of all employees to the empowered four-member committee of ministers. An empowered committee comprising the ministers of civil aviation, finance, law and divestment has been set up to decide the financial parameters, after the Cabinet had approved restructuring of the New Delhi and Mumbai airports recently.

Mr Rudy said the government has allayed the fears of the unions concerning their jobs after privatisation. A consultative mechanism will be adopted for the ongoing dialogue on the proposed restructuring with the unions, he stated.

Various inputs will be given to the committee comprising the AAI employees, a civil aviation ministry representative and two representatives of each of the employees unions. The issues will subsequently be taken up by the empowered committee of ministers.

While addressing the union representatives the minister urged them to strengthen the hand of the government as the fact is that AAI is not being privatised, but only some of the airports are being restructured. The minister also said, suitable provisions will be made in the concession agreement to be entered into by AAI and selected private sector partners for the two proposed companies to reflect the final decisions of the empowered cabinet committee.

AAI employees, including the fire staff, were on a nationwide relay hunger strike for the past five days. They had planned to go on a days mass casual leave from September 26 and had threatened to intensify the agitation if the government did not respond positively to the apprehensions.