About 600 pilots of Jet Airways, India's top carrier, have been on strike, halting scores of domestic and international flights on Tuesday.
The National Aviators' Guild, a union of pilots, has been demanding the reinstatement of two pilots Jet sacked. The union, which has been in talks with the airline, had threatened to go on strike if its demands were not met.
Talks between the airline and the pilots' union were scheduled to resume on Sept. 14.
"Jet Airways has been in a conciliation process with the pilots. The Regional Labour Commissioner had categorically stated that any strike by pilots during this (period) would be deemed an illegal act," the airline said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Regrettably, a section of the pilots has resorted to a simulated strike by reporting sick," it said.
A pilots' union spokesman said they would continue to protest till they received some assurance from management that the dismissed pilots would be reinstated.
"All we want is that they give us in writing that the two sacked pilots will be reinstated. Management also has some responsibility in meeting us half-way," said Girish Kaushik.
Stranded passengers were being accommodated in hotels or on alternate flights, a Jet Airways spokeswoman said.
Last year, Jet Airways, reeling under high operating costs, was forced to reinstate 800 flight attendants it had sacked, after angry protests by employees that drew enormous media and political attention.
India's labour laws, rated by the World Bank as among the most rigid, hurts firms' competitiveness and will spark tensions as layoffs bite in a slowing economy, analysts have said.
ReutersLast Mod: 08 Eylül 2009, 11:37