The Cabinet on Wednesday decided not to interfere with the privatisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports or the right of the employees to protest.
"The strike is not an issue with the Cabinet," Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi told reporters after the Cabinet meeting as employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) launched a nationwide strike. Referring to the two Hyderabad-based consortia awarded the contracts for modernising the airports, Dasmunsi said: "The Cabinet cannot interfere with the selection process. The Government will also not interfere with the rights of trade unions to protest.
Everyone has the right to protest but we will ensure that this does not disrupt functioning of the airport."
Dasmunsi said the "appropriate minister" and officials were dealing with the situation.
Asked about the possibility of the Government invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), Dasmunsi simply said: "We have every confidence that nothing will go out of hand."He added that the Government was not worried about the opposition of the Left parties because it was adhering to the Common Minimum Programme agenda of governance.
Reacting to the Reliance group threatening legal action and alleging that tender conditions were changed, the minister said: "Any group enjoys the right to go to court and get a writ if they feel they are aggrieved."
Strike affects passenger services — Thousands of employees of state-owned Airports Authority of India on Wednesday began a nationwide indefinite strike, protesting against privatisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports. Airfields close to Delhi and Mumbai have been put on alert.,Passenger services at all airports were affected even as officials claimed that flights across the country operated smoothly.
Baggage handling has also been affected at various airports due to strike. The authorities have advised passengers to travel light. All flights to and from Kolkata were cancelled. The Air Traffic Control (ATC), which had earlier issued notice that flights could neither land nor take off, have withdrawn the notice. Some flights may now take off.