Kingfisher paying salary selectively,allege staffers

Pilots claim salaries of only those employees who have disrupted flights have been cleared.

Written by Debabrata Das | Mumbai | Published: July 17, 2012 12:17:18 am

More flash strikes at airline possible in coming days

Frustration is rising among unpaid pilots and engineers of crisis-hit Kingfisher Airlines. They claim that salaries of only those employees who have disrupted flights have been cleared. The lack of a registered union is also proving to be a stumbling block for the employees who are seeking help from the government and judicial bodies to help clear their salaries.

Kingfisher has had to tackle four incidents of minor labour unrest,leading to cancellation of flights in the last three months. More such cases of flash strikes are possible in the near future as employees from different cities join in to raise their concerns,sources say.

“The airline has been taking advantage of the fact that there is no union and very little unity between employees across centres,” said a Kingfisher engineer. “There has been no countrywide agitation and strikes have been fragmented,which has allowed the airline to quickly control the situation by clearing the salaries of only those who agitate.”

However,the airline has refuted the allegations. “There is no change in our compensation payment policy and no question of any selective or discriminatory payments,” said the airline’s spokesperson in reponse to an FE query.

The airline had to cancel 40 flights on July 14 as a section of its employees stayed away from work. On July 10,it had to cancel five flights from New Delhi and four flights were cancelled on July 2 from Mumbai. On May 9 and 10,the pilots from Delhi and Mumbai had gone on a strike resulting in nearly 20 flights being cancelled.

After the latest agitation over the weekend,Kingfisher said that salaries have been paid to 75% of its workforce. “Kingfisher wishes to state that more than 75% of its employees have actually received their promised salaries on the committed date of July 13,” the airline said in a statement on Saturday. “We have further assured our staff that the balance of our employees will receive their salaries by July 16. Despite this,a section of employees have decided to stay at home,” the statement added.

Kingfisher pilots and engineers claimed that only February dues have been paid to the staff and salaries from March onwards are yet to be given to a majority of the employees.

Media reports on Sunday said that a section of pilots plan to move the labour court for intervention. In the absence of a union,the airline’s engineers also plan to take a similar step and approach the court in groups.

“The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has indicated that they can’t intervene in the matter of salaries,” said a Kingfisher pilot on condition of anonymity. “We are seeking legal advice on what would be the best way to approach the labour courts.”

Kingfisher already operates a skeletal schedule of 120 flights a day,a third of what it was operating last year. It has had to send back 11 aircraft to lessors this year and the airline owes R8,022 crore to lenders.

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