Questioning his stoic silence over non-payment of salaries to hundreds of employees of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, a section of former women staffers has accused its chairman Vijay Mallya of misleading government and the employees on the revival plan.
In an open letter, which comes on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the women employees have also accused the beleaguered industrialist of “killing” two airlines and rendering hundreds of people jobless.
“You say that you are not a defaulter. But you confidently told us during the meeting that banks won’t be able to recover more than 5-10 per cent of debt amount. That speaks volumes of your malicious intentions.
“In the same meeting, you promised revival, payment of our salary… This clearly means that you had no intention of reviving the airline while you kept submitting misleading revival plans to banks/DGCA,” the women staffers alleged in the letter.
According to sources, nearly 700 of the 1,500 employees, who still claimed to be on the payroll of the defunct airline, are women.
The open letter comes when a consortium of PSU banks have moved Supreme Court seeking a direction that Mallya not be allowed to leave India. The apex court has agreed to hear their plea tomorrow.
A Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) had yesterday barred Mallya from accessing USD 75 million severance package from Diageo till the loan default case with State Bank of India is settled.
Diageo and United Spirits Ltd, owned by the UK-based firm, have also been asked by the DRT in Bengaluru to disclose details of the agreement they have come to with Mallya.
SBI, which leads the consortium of 17 banks that lent money to the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines, had moved DRT against Mallya in its bid to recover over Rs 7,000 crore of dues from him.
The former women employees posed a number of questions on Mallya’s recent statement that he was making efforts to reach a ‘one-time settlement’ with banks, and that a “disinformation campaign” had been launched to make him a “poster boy” of all bad loans.
“We the women employees of Kingfisher are forced to write this letter to call your bluff as a response to your media release recently which as usual had nothing about us.
“…you are talking about one time settlement with only banks and not the employees. Why? Because we are weak and vulnerable due to our system?” they asked.
“Coincidentally today being ‘Women’s Day’, we feel pained that our colleague’s wife who committed suicide didn’t get justice,” they added.
The wife of a former Kingfisher Airlines employee in Delhi had allegedly committed suicide, apparently depressed over financial stress due to non-payment of salary to her husband on October 4, 2012, when Mallya had decided to ground the airline due to paucity of funds. However, no FIR was registered by the police in the case.
“You said you are fully cooperating with the agencies, then why did you place legal hurdles in the path of recovery by the banks, which were following due legal process to recover the debt amount? You evaded the recovery process. What are you other than an absconder?” the letter said.
Reminding Mallya that before “hiding” behind the limited liability clause, he should know that laws are not made to be misused, the open letter said, “If you are such a law abiding citizen then follow them in totality, not according to your convenience.”
Postulating that had Air Deccan not been acquired by Mallya, it would have been bought over (and would have continued operations), the letter said, “You also killed our mother Kingfisher Airlines which was feeding us.”
The ex-women staffers also questioned as to how Mallya, an NRI who is “out of India most of the time” had been elected as a Rajya Sabha MP. They also asked what are “your contributions as a member of RS, other than asking for immunity?”
They also claimed that Mallya had “paid and compensated foreign employees for fear of their strict laws”, and this exposed his “double standards” towards our nation and laws.
“Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take note of our toothless laws so that no one suffers in future like we did,” they said.