Retreating to his country-home in Tiwen village in suburban London, Vijay Mallya recently tweeted, claiming that he is neither an absconder nor a defaulter. (See the tweet at the bottom of this story.)
Back in India, however, employees of the long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines have upped the ante, accusing that the company has been a habitual defaulter with regard to their salary and other dues.
According to a PTI report, about 30 employees held a protest at the Kingfisher House, Mumbai, near the domestic airport on Wednesday, demanding their wages be paid. They also said that British liquor major Diageo, which acquired a 53.4 percent stake in United Spirits, should pay up for the liabilities that the Mallya-group owes to its employees.
The employees are afraid it is not just Rs 7,000 crore the airline owes its lenders, but another small chunk of Rs 300 crore needs to be paid as outstanding salaries to them. They believe the issue deserves as much attention by the government and the Supreme Court, said media reports.
The Economic Times reported that the now-defunct airline owes 3,000 of its employees Rs 300 crore in salary and other dues. The number includes 900 employees who are still, on paper, employed with the airline and about 2,000 more who left since 2015.
The publication could not confirm on the number of people still jobless, but said the pilots got absorbed and the cabin crew merged into the servicing industry at shopping malls and hotels at lesser salaries.
Anirudha Ballal, an ex-employee of Kingfisher, told PTI: "Our TDS was deducted by the company but the same has not been paid to the tax department as a result of which we are being served with tax notices now."
According to another PTI report, nearly 700 of the 1,500 employees, who still claimed to be on the payroll of the defunct airline, are women.
In an open letter on the International Women's Day (March 8), the women employees have also accused the businessman 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 percent of debt amount," the women staff claimed, and added: "At the same time, you promised revival and 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."
They also claimed that Mallya had "paid and compensated foreign employees for the fear of their strict laws," and this exposed his "double standards" towards our nation and laws.
— NDTV (@ndtv) March 6, 2016