Indian Airport Strike

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Indian Airport Strike

Thousands of Indian airport workers are expected to go on a strike from midnight affecting airport operations across India, trade union leaders say.

Around 15,000 employees, airport cleaners, baggage handlers, and ground staff will be on indefinite strike from Wednesday (Mar 12) midnight.

They are demanding that the government continue to run old airports in places where new ones are being built.

Private airports are due to replace government facilities in the southern cities of Bangalore and Hyderabad soon.

The workers say some staff will lose their jobs, while others will have to move to other cities for work.

India's civil aviation ministry has rejected the workers' demand.

Determined

The new airports have been built by private companies and under the agreement with the builders, the existing facilities have to be closed down before the new ones become operational.

"Employees at 127 airports of India will go on a strike and there will be no emergency or safety services to facilitate landings and take-off," news agency Reuters quoted MK Ghoshal, leader of the 14,000 striking employees, as saying.

"We are not against privatization, but we want the old airports to continue to function," he said.

The civil aviation ministry says the government will take steps to ensure that passengers are not inconvenienced by the strike.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has said the government is determined to close down Bangalore and Hyderabad airports as they lack proper facilities.

The workers belong to the state-controlled Airports Authority of India and want the government to assure them that no jobs will be lost after the airports are privatized.


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