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Kingfisher Airlines employees plan hunger strike over salary dues

Sep 15 2013, 20:31 IST
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SummaryThe employees received last salary this April for July 2012, sources said.

Employees of grounded carrier Kingfisher Airlines Ltd have renewed demand for salary dues and served a hunger strike notice, even as company chairman Vijay Mallya recently assured that efforts to revive the airline were underway.

The employees received last salary this April for July 2012, sources said, adding a section of the city-based employees have already started a peaceful agitation.

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As of March, there were 2,851 employees with the carrier which has been grounded since last October.

"We have been pushed to the wall with no salary since April, when the airline paid us our July 2012 salary. We have now decided to go on a hunger strike if our dues are not paid," the sources among the employees told PTI here.

The employees have served the mandatory two-week notice to the management which expires coming Thursday.

Mallya, while blaming everyone including the media for the airline woes but himself, recently informed the shareholders that airline is in dialogue with the authorities to restart operations.

"The company has presented a viable plan to DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) and the civil aviation authorities which is acceptable to them, subject to recapitalisation," according to the Kingfisher Airlines's annual report, sent to shareholders ahead of annual general meeting on September 24.

Sources said a group of Mumbai employees had a few meetings with the management, but got no firm assurance.

"The management told us they want to pay our dues but can't do so as all company's accounts are frozen due to non-payment of taxes. They also said the company will file an application before the courts to allow it release at least one-month salary," sources said.

The airline owes more than Rs 7,000 crore to a group of 17 banks, which were not serviced since January 2012. Some of the banks had filed winding up application with the Karnataka High Court over loan defaults.

Also, the service tax department had got its bank accounts frozen since last November for non-payment of tax dues of over Rs 100 crore.

Sources said the employees will wait till Monday, when the winding-up petition is to come up for a hearing, and if the company does not pay at least a month's salary, they will go on an indefinite hunger strike.

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