India’s Jet suffers what it calls a “simulated strike”

After seeing a lot of press releases on labour relations over the years you get use to the language. Now I’ve got a new phrase to add to my vocabulary – simulated strike.

That is the accusation India’s Jet Airways is making against a large group of its pilots for calling in sick over the past couple of days after a Mumbai court ruled they could not strike during a conciliation process taking place with the carrier.

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Now I don’t know the ins and outs of the grudge the pilots have with the carrier – please enlighten me anyone if you like – but I have trouble understanding such action in this terrible business climate. And India is suffering badly. No one is making money. There is too much capacity.

Our recent leader urged airlines to take a hard line on labour.

Jet’s dispute with its pilots is yet another blow to the carrier as it tries to return to breakeven.

It is also having trouble with its proposed alliance with another loss-maker Kingfisher Airlines.

And the strike is causing massive disruption.

 

Here’s the Jet release of 8 September in full:

Mumbai, September 8th, 2009: As per the directions of the Regional Labour Commissioner, Jet Airways has been in a conciliation process with the pilots. The Regional Labour Commissioner had categorically stated that any strike by the pilots during the pendency of conciliation, would be deemed an illegal act under Industrial Disputes Act.

After announcing the withdrawal of the strike, the pilots resorted to a simulated strike by reporting sick. Since 10 pm last night, a total of 163 captains and 198 first officers, reported sick disrupting the flight schedule and causing inconvenience to the travelling public.

The number of pilots who reported sick represents nearly 40 per cent of the total airline pilot strength of 760 national pilots. This significant increase in the percentage of pilot reporting sick and disrupting flights is regarded by the airline as simulated strike.

As a result of this, 186 flights – 154 domestic and 32 international services – have been cancelled or affected through out the Jet Airways network. About 13,000 traveling passengers have been affected. A majority of the passengers have been transferred to other carriers.

Jet Airways has taken all steps to minimize the inconvenience caused to the traveling public and is making all efforts to operate the maximum number of flights. However, perforce some flights may have to be combined or cancelled, we have made arrangements to accommodate our guests on alternative flights.

The airline’s website, call centre and Jet Alert sms’s are providing updated information on the flight status. Efforts are being made to update the flight status on news channels.

Out of the total domestic flights operated by the airline approximately 25 % of the flights have operated until noon today.

All JetLite flights have been operated as per the normal schedule.

All Jet Airways wide body long haul flights are currently operating as normal having been crewed by foreign pilots, who have been pulled out from leave and standby.

We would like to personally thank all those pilots who stood by the airline so that inconvenience to the traveling public is kept to the minimum possible.

In order to minimize inconvenience to passengers, Jet Airways moved an application in the High Court to pass an order restraining the NAG and its members from going on any form of strike and the High Court has passed an order of such restraint

Jet Airways is expecting the written form of this restraining order and will take appropriate action.

Jet Airways regrets the inconvenience caused to the esteemed guests and seek their understanding and support during this difficult phase.

My view: get round the table and negotiate properly you guys – this kind of action, in this kind of climate, is not smart.

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One Response to India’s Jet suffers what it calls a “simulated strike”

  1. FTV 11 September, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    The Jet Airways pilots are on “simulated strike” because a few weeks back the pilots formed a Union and the management promptly sacked the 2 Senior Captains who were responsible for the formation. Over the next few days the management also sacked the office bearers of the union. So long story short the Union was asking the management to reinstate their sacked colleagues and warned of an impending strike if they did not. The management instead of entering discussions with the union, approached the Mumbai Court and got an order that prohibits any “strike”…hence many Jet pilots decided to call in “sick” resulting in this “simulated strike”!

    Latest on this is that today (11 Sep) with the intervention of the Indian Government both parties have agreed to enter discussions. Hoping for the best…for the sake of Indian Aviation! Jet Airways is the oldest private airline in India.

    -FTV
    PS: Air India the Flag carrier of India does have unions representing its pilots!

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