Anti-privatisation airport strike continues in India
3 February 2006, NEW DELHI - Airport workers opposing the privatisation of airports in India on Friday continued with the third day of their strike, which has led to a deteriorating state of passenger amenities at airports across the country.
3 February 2006
NEW DELHI - Airport workers opposing the privatisation of airports in India on Friday continued with the third day of their strike, which has led to a deteriorating state of passenger amenities at airports across the country.
Over 20,000 airport employees are protesting the government's decision to privatize the modernization of Delhi and Mumbai airports.
Facilities such as luggage transfer and toilets at the international and domestic airports in the eastern city of Calcutta were worst-affected, as Airport Authority of India (AAI) workers continued to stage protests near the airports.
However, the airport authorities said that barring delays in some flights from Calcutta early on Friday, flights across the country were operating on schedule.
The power supply at Calcutta airport was erratic, affecting the air-conditioning and water-supply, which added to the woes of passengers who were forced to carry their own luggage as conveyer belts were not working.
"The sanitation and hygiene at the airport is worsening as the airports have not been cleaned for two days. There is litter in many places, dustbins are overflowing and the toilets are clogged and stinking," an airport official said, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with the leaders of the workers' unions and appealed to them to call off the strike.
The unions are backed by the left-wing allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
The workers began an indefinite strike from Wednesday following the government's decision to hand over the modernization of two airports to two international consortiums - Delhi to GMR Fraport, a German-Indian collaboration, and Mumbai to GVK South Africa.
Allaying workers' fears that privatization would lead to massive job-cuts, India's Aviation Minister Praful Patel said the private consortia had agreed to retain 60 per cent of the staff at both the airports.
He also said all staff would be retained for the first three years.
Following the meeting with Singh, the unions were considering calling off their strike.
MK Ghoshal, convenor of the All India AAI Employees Joint Federation, told reporters that the unions were scheduled to hold a meeting where they would consider the request made by Indian prime minister "very seriously."
Subject: German news