Beggared Kingfisher employees appeal to PM for dues

Amid the controversies surrounding liquor baron Vijay Mallya, employees of his defunct Kingfisher Airlines – whose claims seem buried in the thousands of crores of rupees owed to lenders – have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a "humanitarian" appeal seeking his intervention to get their back-dues.

Highlighting their plight as they have not been paid their salaries and statutory dues like Provident Fund and gratuity, the employees say in their letter that they are also being hounded by Income Tax notices although the tax default is by the Airline.

"Our present laws which were supposed to protect the employees' interests have become redundant and are failing to meet the purpose that they were meant to serve. The best example would be that some of our colleagues who could afford legal fees went to courts and were awarded decrees in their favour, though even this did not translate into actual dues being paid, thereby making a mockery of our justice system. The others are still fighting for their dues in the winding-up petitions in the Honourable Karnataka High Court," the letter said.

Asserting that there were about 7,000 direct as well as indirect employees who were affected by the closure of Kingfisher Airlines, the employees said that the majority of them cannot even afford to fight it out in the courts, adding that their attempt to appeal on humanitarian grounds was even opposed by the councils of various parties, including the banks.

The employees went on to say that they have lost all hopes as the legal system has failed them miserably and as a result "the common, law abiding citizens are suffering and bearing the brunt of it".

"On behalf of all the employees of erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines, we request your immediate intervention in the matter of helping us recover our hard earned dues," the letter said.

Appealing to the government to see if it can pay the dues of the employees 'ex gratia' and recover them from the company and the management of KFA along with the dues of the banks, the employees stated that there have been instances in the past where the government has paid the employees, be it in the times of sugar cane mills or cotton industries.

"Sir, the government has enough avenues to recover the dues and can afford the unfortunate delay that it would take now. But the employees cannot bear any further delays. The whole world seems to have forgotten about us and misplaced its priorities in the larger scheme of things when it comes to banks and others," the letter said.

In conclusion, the employee's reiterated their plea for a government intervention to secure their rightful and legitimate dues at the earliest as "justice delayed would be justice denied".