Hinting that Jet Airways employees are unlikely to receive their salary dues till the stake sale process is completed, Vinay Dube, the CEO of crisis-struck Jet Airways, on Friday told airline employees that the lenders have so far provided no clarity on releasing emergency funds required to meet salary dues.
In a letter to the employees, Dube also wrote that the consortium of lenders to the now-grounded Jet Airways have put the blame for the airline’s collapse on shareholders, suggesting that the latter could have agreed to a resolution plan a long time ago.
“While we will continue to support the lender-led bid process in our effort to leave no stone unturned it pains us to communicate that no clarity or commitment on salaries has been provided by any of our stakeholders,” Dube said in his letter to the employees.
He also described the company’s efforts to take up the issue with the government at the highest levels, seeking its intervention and assistance, which, however, had not yielded positive results so far.
“While on the one hand, we are being told to preserve the value of Jet Airways during the bid process, our colleagues, who are the very factor and value of the airline, have no choice to find employment elsewhere,” the CEO said.
Dube told the employees that it has tried to convince the state-run State Bank of India (SBI)-led consortium to release some funds for the over 20,000 employees who have not received their dues for months, while the bank-led resolution process for the airline is on.
“We have told them repeatedly that our employees are facing grave hardships owing to non-payment of their salaries and that if this were to continue any longer, our employees will have no option but to find employment elsewhere,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the banks have said that they are unable to make any salary commitments. We face this reality despite our best efforts to portray the very real suffering that is being endured by each one of you”.
The Jet CEO also highlighted that fact in numerous board meetings of the airline payment of salary arrears was deliberated with no favourable outcome.
Earlier, the All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), the largest union in the banking sector had said that the banks can lend some money to Jet Airways specifically for the purpose of paying employee salaries.
“The consortium of banks not extending further financial assistance to Jet Airways is right. However, the banks can extend a loan to Jet Airways only for the purpose of paying the salaries to employees,” General Secretary of AIBEA C.H. Venkatachalam had said.
According to Venkatachalam, if the airline gets a new promoter and continues to employ the staff, then the sum lent by the banks towards paying salaries can be recovered.
National Aviators Guild (NAG), which is the pilots’ union of Jet Airways, has said that a sum of Rs 175 crore is needed to pay employee salaries. The NAG, however, has not volunteered to take any pay cuts.
Jet Airways pilots had appealed to the State Bank of India (SBI) to release Rs 1,500 crore for cash-strapped airline’s survival and also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help save 20,000 jobs at stake.
However, the request for critical interim funding for maintaining bare minimum operations was refused by the lenders. Following this, the airlines on April 17 announced to temporarily suspend all flight operations
Employees of Jet Airways have written to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking their intervention to recover outstanding dues as well as to expedite the process of emergency funds for the airline which has shuttered its operations temporarily.
Cash-starved Jet Airways, which has around 23,000 employees, has delayed payment of salaries to the employees, including pilots.
(With inputs from IANS)