FIVE days after 800 workers of Cambata Aviation Private Limited (CAPL) started an indefinite fast at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), state Minister for Labour Skill Development Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar on Sunday promised to repay the pending salaries of the employees.
As many as 2100 employees of the ground handling company at the airport were rendered jobless after the company declared bankruptcy and folded its operations in India in August 2016.
While the workers had been awaiting their pending payments from February and August 2016, Nilangekar promised that the government would pay their salaries pending till date.
In a meeting with the workers on Sunday, he also directed airport operator Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), primary employer, to repay the security deposit of Rs 40 crore to the employees.
After the meeting, the workers withdrew their hunger strike but said that the protest would continue till they meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday.
“While the promise of repaying our salaries from the government comes as a good sign, we will continue to stage the strike till the chief minister promises us the final deal,” Aggy C, a Cambata employee, said.
Social activist Anjali Damani, who led the protest for workers, said, “Salaries worth Rs120-130 crore were pending to be paid to the workers. However, Nilangekar has said that the company has not officially shut its operations till now. Which means salaries from the period February 2016 till they declare closure would be paid to the employees.”
Confirming the development, deputy labour commissioner Ashok Doke said, “ As the Cambata company has not issued a closure notice to the employees, the minister was of the view that workers must be paid their pending salaries from February 2016 till date. We have asked regional labour commissioner to deal with the issue as it comes under the purview of the central government,” he added.
A source from the minister’s office who was present at the meeting said, ”MIAL has been asked to serve a closure notice of the company to the employees at the earliest. The Cambata workers would meet the chief minister, concerned officials of MIAL,officials from employees provident fund organisation and central labour commission on Tuesday. The minister has asked the labour commission to devise a plan, on how the workers would acquire their pending salaries, and present it to the chief minister.”
When contacted, the MIAL did not comment on the issue.
Damania said that they will meet Fadnavis on Tuesday to get a closure on the issue. “ Calculating the pending salaries of two years for the employees would be a time taking task. Hence, we would ask the chief minister to fix a slab for blue collar and white collar staff and disburse their salaries at the earliest,” Damania added.
The company incorporated in 1954 is involved in sensitive ground operations such as baggage handling and aircraft door checks at the New Delhi and Mumbai airport for the past 35 years. Presently, CSIA has handling staff from Air India, Celebi and BWFS which have taken over Cambata’s business.