Thursday, March 13, 2008

Indian Labor: Whimisical Unions

The Airports Authority Employees' Union (AAEU), a CPI-M backed outfit, has decided to call off its 'strike'. The AAEU was protesting the closures of Bangalore and Hyderabad airports, which are being replaced by privately-operated airports, which would cause massive job losses and the thinning of union ranks.

This brief PTI article doesn't say why the 'strike' was called off, but I suspect one of two scenarios: first, the government, in its infinite foolishness, gave concessions to AAEU, the type that one regrets later; second, the union, whose last strike was wholly unpopular, decided not to raise the ire of passengers, who they treat as burdens rather than customers.

When I first heard the AAEU was going on strike, my reflexive response was for the government to fire each and every one of them. I'm not anti-union, and I do believe the AAEU has legitimate concerns, but unions should not be allowed to strike on a whim. Mechanisms should be adopted to address the grievances of unions, including mediation boards and collective bargaining agreements.

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