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Airlines

UPDATE 1-India's Jet Airways to hold talks with pilots

(Recasts with talks beginning on Friday)

MUMBAI, Sept 10 (Reuters) - India's Jet Airways JET.BO will hold talks with pilots on Friday in an attempt to end a stand-off over the sacking of four pilots that has forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights, a union representative said.

More than half of the airline’s 760 pilots, banned from striking without informing the airline’s management in advance, have reported sick since Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of flights and affecting at least 14,000 passengers.

The strike is seen as an example of touchy labour relations in a country where archaic labour laws place myriad limits on hiring and conditions for retrenchment, hurting competitiveness and leading to worker unrest.

“We will have a reconciliation talk with the management in the labour commissioner’s office in Delhi tomorrow,” Capt. Girish Kaushik, President of the National Aviators Guild, a Jet Airways pilots’ union, said in Mumbai.

India’s labour ministry intervened on Thursday and asked both parties to come to the nation’s capital to resolve the crisis.

The pilots say they went on mass leave after four of their colleagues were sacked because they were trying to get the management to recognise their newly formed union.

Jet said the four were fired for indiscipline and called the mass absence of pilots a “simulated strike”.

“The problem would be solved immediately, all I want is the four boys back on board,” Kaushik told reporters.

Shares of Jet Airways, India’s second largest airline by market share closed 3.5 percent down in a slightly stronger Mumbai market.

Most Indian private airlines do not have unions and analysts have warned the unrest at Jet Airways could become the trigger for labour unrest in other airlines.

A Jet spokeswoman said the pilots were still on leave and the airline was accommodating passengers on other carriers such as Jetlite and Air India.

The Bombay High Court also served a contempt notice to the pilots, following a petition filed by the airline against the mass leave, the airline said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The crisis was triggered after talks between the management and NAG broke down over a demand to reinstate two sacked pilots.

The union subsequently said they were open for conciliatory talks with the management only if the sacked pilots were reinstated and the union not dismantled. (Writing by Bappa Majumdar; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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