There were ugly and violent scenes between riot police and protesting airport workers after the latter went on strike outside Mumbai Airport yesterday to protest against the privatisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports.
In Mumbai, hundreds of striking employees clashed with baton wielding police in front of the busy airport amid frenzied slogan shouting. Police surrounded the protesters and prevented them storming the airport.
The strike action follows the award of two contracts this week to two consortia to modernise Mumbai and Delhi airports. As reported yesterday, the government awarded the contract for Delhi Airport to a consortium led by India's GMR/Fraport group and Mumbai Airport to India's GVK Industries and its partner, the Airports Company of South Africa.
Airport workers say they are striking because they fear the loss of their jobs, despite a three year agreement between the government and both consortiums that all jobs will be protected for a minimum of three years.
Comment: Both consortiums will need to be made of strong stuff if they are to tough it out in India. Not only will they have to route out corruption in both airports, but they will also have the tough task of addressing future revenue streams such as duty free shops. The Airport Authority of India?s attempts to tender the duty free contracts to international bidders at both Mumbai and Delhi have been thwarted several times in recent years and there is no reason to suppose that this process will be any easier in future.