Video Editor : Mohammad Irshad Alam
For nearly a week now, over 150 cars that were used by Jet Airways to pick and drop their captains and crew members have remained parked at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai. The drivers of these cars, who work on contracts, are refusing to release the cars till their salaries of almost two months are paid.
"“They owe us salaries for over one month and 20 days. They keep telling us that we will get paid within a week, then they tell us 10 days, but we are suffering. I’m not able to pay rent. I have a family of five and I’m the only earning member. It’s very difficult for me. We will not let the cars move from here till they give us our salaries.”" - Abdullah Shaikh, Vendor
For almost a week now, the drivers have been sleeping on makeshift cardboard sheets at the airport parking lot, waiting for confirmation on their salaries.
“We have been working here for a year now. There is a total of 170 cars here right now. We pick up and drop the captains and their crew from the airport to their homes and vice versa. We haven’t been getting out payment for almost two months now. The company we work on contract with is telling us that we will pay you once Jet pays us,” explained driver Nitin Patole.
Twenty-six-year-old Dinesh Mishra, who has been driving the cars rented out to Jet Airways for about eight months now is worried about putting food on the table for his family if his dues are not cleared at the earliest. Non-payment of salary meant he wasn’t even able to contribute to the funeral of his grandmother who died recently.
"“We face lots of problems at home. My grandmother died just recently, they have held back my salary for over a month-and-a-half and now also they tell us they want 10 more days. I’m the only earning member in my family. Only I know how I manage my home with a salary of Rs 15,000. I need to pay for the ration, rent and so many other expenses. I need to take care of my wife and children.” " - Dinesh Mishra, Driver
While vendors working with Jet Airways will breathe a sigh of relief the moment their dues are cleared, it is a completely different matter for the airline’s employees. Thirty-year-old Nitesh Singh is losing faith in the aviation sector. Once already affected by the crisis that hit Kingfisher Airlines in the past, Singh is now hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself.
"“As an airline employee, I need salary to survive with my family, for the education of my children. I have parents, my father has retired, I have a wife. But I can’t say anything as I can’t do anything to come out of this Jet Airways situation.”" - Nitesh Singh, Senior Executive of Customer Service, Jet Airways
Singh, who is now exploring stand-up comedy as an alternate means of income even as he is hopeful that Jet Airways will recover, is now unsure about the stability for employees in the commercial aviation sector.
“I have a six-year-old daughter and she tells me every day that she wants to become a pilot. Now, I’m forced to ask her to drop her dreams and think about something else because you never know when you lose your job and have to run here and there,” he added.
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