Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) employees have rejected chairman Vijay Mallya’s latest plan for salary disbursement and have threatened to strike work if two months’ salaries are not credited to their accounts by 8 pm on Tuesday.
Agitated employees handed over a letter to the management after a stormy meeting in Mumbai on Monday, which said they had reached “a point where operations have become unsafe due to stress caused by our financial constraints.” Employees, including pilots and engineers, haven’t been paid since December.
“We are not currently in a mental state to undertake any duties and doing so would jeopardise the safety of our aircraft and more so ever our valuable guests,” the employees wrote on a day when the airline’s shares fell 8.8% to touch a new low of Rs 15.10.
They have asked the airline to pay salary for December and January by Tuesday 8 pm and clear the remaining dues by April 20. Employees letter to Mallya was in response to a letter from the chairman wherein he wrote of paying salaries to junior staff on April 4 and to pilots and engineers on April 9 and 10.
Its operations, sources said, were hit even on Monday as some employees stayed away from work. Hindustan Times had reported on March 29 that a section of KFA pilots could stop flying from April to protest against unpaid salaries. KFA did not reply to an email from HT.
KFA employees wrote that in the past as well they had received assurances that salary would be paid on certain date. “However, none of the assurances have been met. The resulted salary payments being overdue for four months has left employees feeling cheated and deceived resulting in non-believing your latest mail.”
“My only focus now is to start paying your seriously overdue salaries,” Mallya had written to employees. “Any flight disruptions and guest inconvenience will destroy all our efforts which is exactly what our competitors want and I suspect the media wants as well so as to satisfy their breaking news headlines. I appeal to you not to play into their hands. Starting this week, I am going to be personally available at each major station for one day a week to listen to the concerns of all staff at all levels.”
Reports said that employees had urged players of Mallya’s IPL team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, to stop boycott the tournament. HT could not independently verify this.