Mumbai/New Delhi: The crisis in Kingfisher Airlines following a 23-day lockout is likely to prolong with a large section of employees Tuesday sticking to its refusal of the management's offer on payment of salary dues even as its owner Vijay Mallya said he was not an "absconder".
Under fire over the crisis and with agitated employees asking where he is, Mallya broke his silence, slamming sections of the media for calling him an "absconder".
"I travel 24x7 where my multiple work responsibilities take me. Sections of media call me an absconder because I don't talk to them," Mallya said in a tweet.
Mallya's tweet came against the backdrop of his absence at the talks or negotiations the management of the debt-ridden private carrier has been holding with the employees over the past two weeks.
The airline employees, who held meetings in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai, rejected the offer of payment of three months' salaries in a staggered manner as part payment of its dues and insisted that it should be paid in lumpsum.
However, its Mumbai-based pilots said they were ready to accept the deal offered by the management as a condition to resume work. Salaries have been pending for seven months.
The airline CEO, Sanjay Aggarwal, Tuesday sent out emails to individual employees offering them three months salary by Diwali in mid-November, saying if they accepted the offer, they should send an acceptance note and resume work from Friday, which was objected to by the protestors.
The staffers also objected to Aggarwal's suggestion that the employees, who would accept the offer, should send a reply to him saying: "I hereby accept the terms and conditions of the mail below and confirm that I shall be reporting to work effective October 26, 2012. I assure you that I would adhere to my duties in a manner that does not cause any further disruptions of our operations."
The CEO also told the individual employees: "Once you have sent your acceptance, you can resume duties effective October 26, 2012."
Some staffers, who were in a strident mood on receipt of the offer letter, said "we cannot give any such undertaking in writing as the management has been consistently failing to deliver on their promises. The management is holding us responsible for the lockout they have declared."
An engineer, Subhash Chandra Mishra of the Engineering department in Delhi, questioned the silence of Mallya and said "the management has been shooting such letters regularly, but they have failed to honour their commitments. We reject this offer and demand a lumpsum payment of a minimum of three months' salary, if not of four months, by October 26."
Aggarwal said that the March 2012 salary will be paid on or before October 25.
"We have urged them to accept our offer and should they agree, they will receive the April 2012 salary on or before October 31 and the May 2012 salary before Diwali. In essence, the Company will pay three months of salary before Diwali to these employees," he said in the letter.
Aggarwal held out the assurance that the remaining backlog of salaries from June to September "will be paid once the company has been recapitalized upon equity infusion."
From December, salaries would be paid in 30-day arrears on a monthly basis. That is, the airline would pay the October salary in December, the November salary in January and so on, the CEO said.
First Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 20:24