Mumbai

Jet employees seek answers on salaries, but get none

Common cause: All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association chief Kiran Pawaskar speaks to staffers on Thursday.

Common cause: All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association chief Kiran Pawaskar speaks to staffers on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

Form human chain blocking gate of airline’s office in Andheri; ask what they should do till May 10 when bidding results come in

The employees of debt-laden Jet Airways, which temporarily halted operations on Wednesday, gathered at the Andheri (East) headquarters of the carrier to seek answers from the management on how they plan to pay them.

Thursday morning began with employees forming a human chain, blocking the gate of the airline’s office. The employees affiliated to the All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association had several questions to the management. Prominent among them were, what they were expected to do till May 10, whether they were expected to man counters, and whether the employee welfare society could use its money to pay for them to reach the airport since the office drop was discontinued starting Thursday. Their attempt at meeting CEO Vinay Dube remained unfulfilled.

With the suspension of flights rendering 16,000 permanent employees jobless and 22,000 being affected indirectly, Kiran Pawaskar, NCP leader and president of the All India Jet Airways Officers and Staff Association, met with Mr. Dube and other top management.

Later, Mr. Pawaskar, addressing a press conference, said most aviation companies have faced a shutdown (like Kingfisher Airlines) and this sector does not give any surety to employees. “Jet employees have not got their salary for the last few months. No other company is willing to take Jet Airways employees now,” he said.

Questioning banks’ decision to not provide emergency funding of ₹400 crore, as requested by the airline management, Mr. Pawaskar said, “Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya ran away but the Jet people are still here. So, why is the money not given? Banks should have confidence in the employees and release funding,” he said.

Decisions questioned

The employees’ union questioned the banks’ decision to oust Naresh Goyal from the Jet Airways board. “When Mr. Goyal could make this company so big, why was he booted out? There is nobody who can be questioned,” he said. Jet Airways has a debt of over ₹8,000 crore on its books. It owes crores of rupees to airline lessors and fuel suppliers. The company has been reporting losses amid fierce competition from budget airlines and high aviation turbine fuel prices.

On learning that the airline management has to wait till May 10 when the lender consortium, led by State Bank of India, will reveal the bidding results for buying a majority stake in the ailing airline, employees were in tears. ‘What are we supposed to do after coming to work’ was a common question doing the rounds. Union leaders advised all work-related activity should continue. “No one has been laid off. So, please continue attending work as usual,” Mr. Pawaskar and other union leaders said.

When customer service executives brought up the issue of angry passengers, they were told to keep away from the booking counters to avoid confrontation. The employees were also told not to surrender the Airport Entry Permits, even if asked to do so by the authorities. A staffer said, “Where is the government when so many jobs are on the line. Gratuity, provident fund, nothing is being given. The Labour Ministry is not doing anything.”

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 8:43:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/jet-employees-seek-answers-on-salaries-but-get-none/article26880748.ece

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