I was speaking to Arun after a long time. We had not spoken since we last went on the vacation to Manali together along with the family. And the vacation was all so sweet since we were not sure if we could make it together as Arun's leave from work was not sanctioned till the last minute. Arun was a pilot with Air India and the school vacations were always a time of great stress to him. The kids want to go for their vacation to some place, far away from home, the wife needed to take a break from her daily chores, but getting leave from work during this time was like a war within. It was during these times that he wished he was a fighter pilot, or atleast a fighter trained as a pilot, so that he could advance his case for leave to the management, shooting down the simultaneous thrusts of his colleagues with deft maneuvers. Everybody wanted leave during the school vacations, and the management took on the role of a trapeze artiste delicately balancing the various vacation plans with the flight plans.
I was therefore a little pensive when I called him to plan for the next vacation. I was sure he would come with work related excuses trying to avoid this one. The kids enjoy each others company and they were at my throat egging me to coax Arun and his family to join us. So I was a little taken aback when he bellowed into the phone 'Hey buddy, I was just about to call you, we should plan our next trip”.” I thought he was pulling my leg. “ Dont you have to apply for leave? And considering that you had taken leave during the last school vacations, do you think they will grant you leave this time around? Arent there other people waiting for their chance”? I asked incredulously. He guffawed “Ha, we have solved this perennial problem. The Pilots Union has considered our case sympathetically and we have reached a consensus. Now on, we do not have to worry about work during the vacations, the Union will take care of it”. I was speechless. The Unions taking so much care for the welfare of their members! I thought they only offered lip service and shouted slogans. I asked him about the brilliantly ingenious plan, that the Pilots Union had devised. I was sure that we could implement it across the sectors, and may also improve worker productivity by improving their morale and the employee satisfaction with the establishment. He laughed “ Hey, it is not that ingenious after all. We have decided that we will go on strike during the vacations, so that all of us can enjoy time with the family, rather than a few of us having to sacrifice their happiness in driving around government servants across the sky. After all, they are the only people who travel by Air India nowadays, since the government has left them with no choice but to travel by the national airline.” I said, “But, What will you strike for? How do you know that you will have a reason to strike during the school holidays? Isn't that being over optimistic”?
He was silent for a while. He sounded surprised. “ Are you serious, Who is worrying about a valid reason to strike. This is the problem with you people working in these big MNC's today. You have forgotten the basics of work life. Remember the good old trade union days, when our father's used to have regular strikes, lockouts and we would all go on picnics. We are only reinventing the wheel. We just make an issue of nothing, go on strike, and then negotiate with the government for returning to work after our vacation. So this way, everybody benefits. The management do not have to worry about their flight plans. The Pilots need not fight amongst themselves for leave and can enjoy their vacations which also helps in building team spirit. The air hostesses get time to undergo botox treatments or check in at any ayurvedic treatment centre to treat their ageing knees. The government servant, can for a change, fly onboard private airlines and enjoy their excellent service. The media can fill their prime time slots with inane debates and increase their TRP's. The government also at the end can take the credit for talking tough and solving the crisis. And we all live happily ever after, till the next vacation!”