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Indian GP: Unpaid airline staff to confront Vijay Mallya at Buddh International Circuit


By Berthold Bouman

Although Vijay Mallya’s arrest warrant was withdrawn after the Indian billionaire had paid the bills of his Kingfisher airline, he still faces a number of problems. Mallya’s airline has been grounded since the beginning of this month and disgruntled employees have hinted they will confront Mallya during his home Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.

Huge problems for Vijay Mallya

“We have planned to stage a dharna [sit-in protest] when Mr Vijay Mallya comes at the Grand prix,” said a Kingfisher engineer. “A protest at the sporting event will highlight our plight to the entire world.”

Kingfisher’s licence to fly has been suspended, and it is possible the airline will lose it’s licence altogether. The airline has offered to pay three months salary, but the employees want all their salaries paid, as they have not been paid for the past seven months. Yesterday employees officially rejected the offer, and Kingfisher shares have dropped 4.6% according to the Hindustan Times.

“At meetings held in Mumbai and New Delhi, the employees reached a broad agreement to reject the management offer. We will write a letter to them on the same,” a senior flight engineer said yesterday. “We have also taken legal advice on the issue, but we are awaiting more clarity on the matter before taking any further step.”

Indian media have called the Force India team owner an absconder, and yesterday Mallya finally broke the silence. “I travel 24×7 where my multiple work responsibilities take me. Sections of media call me an absconder because I don’t talk to them,” said Mallya in a tweet.

Unimpressed by the tweet a flight attendant said, “What is the option left before us but to protest? All of us are in deep financial crisis, but [he] is unperturbed. [He’s] mocking at our misery with his lifestyle.”

And last but not least, about 6,500 employees risk to lose their job as all planes are still grounded. It is understood that the employees may also seek intervention of India’s civil aviation minister.

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