Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Kingfisher employees turn down 3-month salary offer
New Delhi: Striking employees of Kingfisher Airlines rejected the management's compensation offer yet again Tuesday and said they may move court and seek intervention of Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh. 'At meetings held in Mumbai and New Delhi, the employees reached a broad agreement to reject the management offer. We will write a letter to them on the same,' a senior flight engineer told IANS. 'We have also taken legal advice on the issue, but we are awaiting more clarity on the matter before taking any further step.' The employees' meetings took place a day after talks failed in Mumbai to end the deadlock which started Oct 1 with the grounding of the airline and suspension of the carrier's flying license by the aviation regulator. The engineer said the latest offer by the management did not meet the bare minimum of demands. 'We are seeking payment of four months' salary from March onwards by Oct 26,' he said. The airline's Chief Executive, Sanjay Aggarwal, Monday had sent a letter to the staff offering the March salary by Oct 26 followed by April's pay by Oct 31 and May's compensation before Diwali. However, the employees have demanded an upfront payment of salaries, citing a lack of trust with the management. 'They have been issuing letters, email and other communications assuring us of payment which has not been made. We cannot go on trusting them forever,' he said. He added that the employees may also seek the civil aviation minister's intervention. 'In this particular case the government should play a pro-active role like they did in the Satyam scam. Though the situation may vary, but the government has to save the thousands of jobs as they did in the Satyam's case.' Nearly, 6,500 employees of the airline face the possibility of losing their jobs as the airline remains in a state of lockout. The employees went on a flash strike Oct 1 demanding payment of their salaries by by Oct 5, which have been pending since March. They also claimed that non-payment of salaries has affected their morale and built up stress levels that can also affect operational safety. Key personnel like aircraft maintenance engineers, whose airworthiness clearance is mandatory for any flight to take off, also struck work. The airline has a total debt of Rs.7,000 crore from a consortium of banks. Currently, the airline has only 10 operational aircraft from a strength of around 66 planes a year ago. It was the country's second largest airline by passenger traffic. But it had the lowest market share in September, which stood at 3.5 percent. The company's scrip at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Tuesday closed 4.59 percent down and stood at its circuit limit of Rs.10.40 from its previous close at Rs.10.90.