On day 3 of “mass sick leave” at GoFirst called by aircraft technicians, the protest has spread to atleast 14 stations. Nearly, 110 cabin crew have also reported sick.
GoFirst’s technicians in Bengaluru, Pune, Port Blair, Kannur, Nagpur, Chandigarh, Ranchi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad and Kolkata have joined the protest. Sources say at most of these stations nearly 90% of technicians are part of the agitation, while in Kolkata nearly 50% have joined.
The stir started on Sunday evening with technicians in Delhi staying away from work. On Monday they were joined by technicians from Mumbai and Bengaluru as well as 70 cabin crew calling in sick, said sources. On Tuesday, 110 cabin crew have reported sick, employee sources said.
An airline source denied that cabin crew went on sick leave, too. An email sent to GoFirst and messages to its CEO Kaushik Khona remained unanswered till the time of going to press.
The anger among technicians is over low salaries, particularly after being not paid for nearly 18 months by the airline. A technician earns a monthly salary of Rs 19,403, and a senior technician earns Rs 22,098.
“We were on leave without pay from April 2020 to November 2021. The airline would call some technicians for seven days and make him carry out maintenance work,” said a technician at the airline who is also part of the agitation.
Meanwhile, at IndiGo where too the technicians are on a mass sick leave since Friday, the management’s olive branch has failed to convince the protesters to join back work. At IndiGo, too, a technician earns between Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 and the demand is for better pay especially since there has been no raise for three to four years and many suffered a steep pay cut and received a salary of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 in April and May 2020 when there were no flights during the first nationwide lockdown.
On Tuesday, the airline also started advertising jobs for the technicians on “immediate” basis as many on agitation refused to join work.