As unpaid bills mount, Jet Airways’ ground staff rise in protest

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on April 12, 2019 Published on April 12, 2019

Jet Airways employees stage a protest at the Mumbai International Airport on Friday over unpaid salaries for March. They also submitted a police complaint   -  Paul Noronha

“I have to pay the bill for my daughter’s surgery but I am unable to do so as I have not been paid my salary,” said a 25-year ground staffer of Jet Airways. He, along with 200 other employees associated with the All India Jet Airways Staff and Officers Association, marched from the international airport here to Siroya Centre, the headquarters of Jet Airways, on Friday, demanding immediate payment of salary dues.

March pay dues

A security supervisor who has been with the company for 10 years said: “I have a two-year-old daughter and I have been saving up for her education. However, since I haven’t received my salary, I had to pay my monthly expenses from that fund.”

The ground staff have not received their salary for March.

Kiran Pawaskar, an NCP leader and vice-president of the employees’ association, marched along with the staff. Later in the evening, Pawaskar and a few ground staff members submitted a police complaint.

Another ground staffer who has worked with the airline for nine years, said: “For the past five years we have been listening to vague promises from the management. We haven’t got an increment for the past five years because the company had been making losses. We have been quite supportive towards the company and we do not want it to fall; however, we deserve clarity on the future of the company and our salary.”

A senior customer care executive at the airport said: “The management should see what their staff goes through at the airport when stranded passengers yell at them. We don’t blame the passengers, they have paid money to buy expensive tickets.” He recalled the fury of a female passenger who spent ₹2 lakh on a flight ticket to Amsterdam and was stranded when the flight got cancelled.

Call for patience

Rahul Taneja, Chief People Officer, Jet Airways, tried to pacify the employees, saying, “We know the times are tough, and it is difficult to handle things. But we request you to please be patient. As soon as we get interim funding from SBI, we will transfer the funds.”

But Taneja’s plea did not cut ice. “It is a question of survival. The pilots and engineers are skilled and can get a job in any airline, however, the ground staff, especially the senior ones, will find it difficult,” said Pawaskar.

“The management said that if SBI transfers even a small amount, it will pay the employees. However, no fund transfer has happened so far, hence we will lodge an FIR against Naresh Goyal, the promoter of Jet Airways, Vinay Dube, the airline’s CEO, and Rajnish Kumar, the chief of SBI.” he added.

Meanwhile, Jet pilots have decided to gather at the airline’s headquarters on April 15 to seek clarity. The pilot body , National Aviators Guild, late on Thursday night sent a message to all the 1,000 pilots associated with the body about the protest. The pilots have also decided to call for an open house on the same day.

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Published on April 12, 2019
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