A protest by a section of Kingfisher Airlines’ staff fizzled out on Friday after Chairman Vijay Mallya told a delegation of employees that he could not pay them. About 60 employees have been camped outside Kingfisher House since Wednesday, demanding immediate release of their salaries. Some of the employees have not been paid since August, 2012.

A delegation of 14 employees met Mr. Mallya who had called them to his Mumbai residence. “Mr. Mallya said he has no money to pay us. He said all bank accounts of Kingfisher have been attached by the banks and even if he puts some money in those accounts, salary cannot be credited. He said, as per the Karnataka High Court’s directive, money from the Diageo deal can only come to UB Holdings and cannot be utilized for any other business including payment of salaries of Kingfisher Employees,” an employee who attended the meeting said.

When some employees sought alternate employment in the UB group or be transferred to other group companies, their plea was rejected.

“ Mr. Mallya said we cannot be transferred to another company’s pay rolls. He asked us to approach the High Court to release part of the Diageo deal money for payment of our salary on humanitarian grounds,” the employee added.

A few months ago, banks had released Rs. 64 crore from attached Kingfisher accounts on humanitarian grounds for payment of pending salary dues. The Kingfisher employees have now gone back home and are planning to move the court to get their dues.

“We are appealing all 2700 employees to contribute to a fund so that we can take legal recourse to get our dues. We know Mr. Mallya has very powerful lawyers and has deep pockets to drag the case for years, but we cannot remain silent,” said an employee asking not to be named.

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