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Shiv Sena-backed union leads Jet Airways staff protest at Mumbai airport

The Sena-backed union has appealed the government to force the State Bank of India (SBI) to help debt-laden Jet Airways financially as they had assured to lend money after Naresh Goyal stepped down, but did not do so.

india Updated: May 08, 2019 15:14 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Jet Airways,Shiv Sena,Jet Airways staff protest
The Bhartiya Kamgar Sena (BKS), the trade union wing of the Shiv Sena, on Wednesday led a protest by the staff of Jet Airways, seeking the government’s intervention to solve the crisis facing the beleaguered airline.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)

The Bhartiya Kamgar Sena (BKS), the trade union wing of the Shiv Sena, on Wednesday led a protest by the staff of Jet Airways, seeking the government’s intervention to solve the crisis facing the beleaguered airline.

Once the country’s largest private airline, Jet halted all flight operations indefinitely on April 17 after failing to secure emergency funds from its lenders. Some 20,000 employees have not been paid salaries since December last year as the airline struggled with a lack of cash before suspending operations.

BKS said around 10,000 Jet Airways staff, including cabin crew, engineering staff and ground staff, participated in the protest at level 4 of Terminal 2 from 10am to 12pm.

The Sena-backed union has appealed the government to force the State Bank of India (SBI) to help debt-laden Jet Airways financially as they had assured to lend money after Naresh Goyal stepped down, but did not do so.

The union said they are hopeful of seeing good bidding results on May 10, however, if the process did not have a positive outcome then they would reach out to the aviation and financial ministers in Delhi and would also disrupt flight operations at the Mumbai airport if needed.

Also read: Other airlines fill in the void left by Jet Airways; flier footfall increases

“We want Jet Airways to revive and all the pending salaries to be paid. If there are no positive results out of the bidding process, we will make this as a huge protest and will close Mumbai airport,” BKS’ general secretary Santosh Chalke said.

Sandip Kumar Dubey, an employee, said they were facing hardships as they had not received their salary since the last three to four months.

“We are carrying out a silent protest here to convey our message to the government. Please listen to us. We have people dependent on us. We have not got our salary for three to four months while some senior employees have not been paid for five months,” he said while speaking to reporters, according to news agency ANI.

Dayal Shahdeo, another employee, said the government or any authorised body should help revive the airline so that it can go back to serve the people.

“We want to become the best airline, not only in India but in the world. We need just a little bit of support to achieve this,” he said.

Also read: Opinion | Tata and Jet Airways: What goes around comes around

On Tuesday, pilots of the grounded airline approached the Supreme Court seeking its direction to SBI to provide the assured interim finance for restarting operations.

The National Aviator’s Guild said in its petition that SBI’s decision to not give the interim funding of Rs 15 billion, after agreeing to it in March as part a resolution plan, has resulted in the airline being grounded and has impacted the livelihood of Jet’s 22,000 employees.

“The respondents have deliberately, or otherwise, brought down the value of Jet Airways and as of now, there are no bidders who have submitted the bid to SBI. Consequently, the employees of Jet Airways have not been paid for the last four months and have lost all hope of the revival of the airlines,” the plea said.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: May 08, 2019 15:11 IST