Kingfisher Airlines’ staff stage protest outside Chinnaswamy Stadium

Minutes before the first city match of the Indian Premier League Season 6 started here Thursday evening, over 50 employees of the Kingfisher Airlines protested outside the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium demanding the immediate release of their pending salaries.

Protesters, who did not have prior police permission, were ushered into the Cubbon Park Police Station. An angry employee, who spoke after he was released, said: “Vijay Mallya seems to have money for everything except the airlines. We wanted to protest outside the stadium to attract the attention of the authorities in any way possible.”

Fight for survival

The employees, who haven’t been paid since July, received two months’ salary earlier this week. “But what about the pending eight months’ salary? We are not asking for charity. We only want the money for the labour that we put in,” said an engineer with the troubled airline. Another engineer said: “These few months have been a fight for survival for us. I have been looking for other jobs, but there is so much uncertainty in our lives. We are even scared to fall sick.”

Meanwhile, some employees said they were on the lookout for other jobs. “We are trying for jobs in other airlines but the aviation industry is down and getting jobs is not easy,” an engineer said.

A pilot, on the condition of anonymity, said the company had not given them any written assurances.

He also pointed out that this had created “distress” among the employees. “We don’t trust our company anymore. From what we hear, they have not even responded to the Labour Department’s directive.”

The pilot added: “While pilots have a higher pay scale, they are able to survive with some savings. But for others, like the ground staff or the engineers, they need to be paid every month in order to survive. Most of them have families that are dependent on them.”

The second match of the IPL 6 featured the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. The latter is owned by Mr. Mallya and hence the Kingfisher employees protest coinciding with the tourney.

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