Airports Authority of India staff prepare to strike

Mumbai: Air passengers may have to brace themselves for a certain amount of trouble as at least 18,000 employees of the Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU), the only registered union of the airports authority staff, may decide to go on a countrywide strike on Tuesday. 
 
''If the government does not heed to our demands, then the strike will be indefinite,'' said MK Ghosal, general secretary, AAEU.

The union has sent notices to the civil aviation ministry, regional directors of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and to the secretary, civil aviation, informing them of their proposed course of action, union sources said. 
 
The union has threatened to strike if its demand that the permanent status of employee jobs with state-run AAI be allowed to continue and that they not be forced to join private airport operators like Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) and Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL). 
 
Also an issue is the closure of old AAI airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore, once the new international airports become operational in these cities next month. 
 
Union representatives claim that the existence of the AAI is now under threat, because of government policies. They claim that AAI is not being allowed to operate on a level playing field by the government. This, they say, is evident from the fact that the AAI is still being denied the mini-ratna status.

The AAEU also alleges that the government has granted terminal handling contracts to private parties going against assurances that except city side chores, all functions would be carried out by AAI employees. 
 
They also point out the fact that only 150 out of a total of 2,500 employees at the Mumbai airport have accepted the MIAL offer to join the operator indicating that there were no takers within the organisation for the MIAL offers.

The MIAL and DIAL are bound to make offers to 5,000 employees within three years of operations airports.
 
Meanwhile, a MIAL spokesperson said that they had prepared contingency plans. They were prepared to outsource housekeeping as well as security and baggage handling services.