Savings dried up, no jobs: Jet Airways employees narrate stories of hardship
While there are many lucky ones who have been able to find jobs in the rival airlines post the Jet Airways fiasco, there are still a lot many who are struggling to get a job. The market undoubtedly cannot absorb the vast 22,000 employees from the Jet Airways.
However, the competing airlines are exploiting the opportunity by hiring cheap labour.
"I have given up all the hope. I get all sorts of thoughts in my mind. I am not getting a job even after having 19 years of experience with Jet Airways. They [other airlines] tell me that it will take more time and I need to wait but I am not able to meet my finances now. Friends and relatives are giving me money in good faith but for how long?" a 44-year-old engineer employed with Jet Airways said.
This 44-year-old engineer who did not want to be named was nearly drawn to tears as he narrated his ordeal over the phone. He also asked if it was "so hard for the government to say a few words" for the Jet Airways employees.
When India Today TV told him that the banks are searching for prospective investors and that the Etihad Airways was still around, he said, "SBI caps aren't letting anyone in. Do you see any transparency in their working? There is no direct effort from the banks to revive the Jet Airways. Everyone wants to grab whatever is left of the airline. For a mere 1,500 crores, 22,000 employees have been rendered jobless."
There are many like him facing the same set of adverse circumstances. With the companies focusing on hiring the youth, the experienced ones are facing a tough time.
Another Jet Airways employee, on the condition of anonymity, said, "I am 46 now. In terms of experience, I can compete with a 25-year-old but not in terms of energy. The philosophy of the airlines these days is to hire people with more energy and at a less pay package. How do I manage my family? My savings have nearly dried up and there are no jobs in the market. "
Another employee said that after the resignation of CEO, CFO and CPO, he and his colleagues got "so frustrated" that they went to meet the SBI officials in Mumbai and had a huge showdown.
"With the resignations of top officials, we were like a headless company. I told them that the banks are responsible for the present state and they, in turn, told me that there were technical issues that had caused the roadblocks. I told them that it is because of their inefficiency that they failed to recover both the money and the airline. SBI isn't a small firm. Didn't it have competent officials to audit the company and get experts to advise them in advance? Now how do we survive? Where are the jobs?" he asks.
The Jet Airways employees have now decided to stage a protest in New Delhi outside the Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan on May 21.
Another Delhi-based employee said that he has already defaulted on the EMI for he hasn't received his salary for the last five months.
"In August last year, we were told that there would be a cut of 25-50 per cent in our salaries but it would be reimbursed by December 31, 2018. Then, our Chairman Naresh Goyal assured us that our salaries would be cleared by March 31. Of course, none of it ever happened. Now, I am not able to pay the school fees of my kid," he said.
When India Today TV asked him if he has tried at other airlines, he said, "You tell me what I should do. I am getting a straight 50 per cent pay cut. Plus, my base is going to change and even after having years of experience, I lose all my seniority."
"Where do I get the money from to relocate? From Delhi, my base will change to Pune. My old parents are bed-ridden and they are in Delhi. My kid is studying in Delhi. If I accept an offer from Pune, I will have to pay rent at two places. I am confused and scared now for I am the only earning member in the family."
It's not just the pilots and engineers at the senior level who are encountering financial storms, crew members, technicians and ground staff at the mid-level, too, are facing a hard time exploring job opportunities.
"I have eight years of experience in Jet Airways but the airline I went to for an interview offered me Rs 22,000 CTC. I was shocked for a moment but didn't say anything. After a moment, they themselves asked me if I will be able to survive. Where can we go if we reject the offer? So now from Rs 80,000 in hand, I am getting Rs 22,000 in hand," said a Jet Airways employee based in Mumbai.
She said, "My daughter is three years old. My in-laws are old. For the last eight years, I managed all the expenses on my own and never took anybody's help. I even handled all the investments myself. But now I feel helpless. I think the auto drivers in Mumbai earn more than me. I have the offer letter from the company but haven't joined as yet. I am looking for a job where I can work and also have time to give tuitions."
The consortium of banks is yet to find a majority investor to join hands with the Etihad Airways. There are many who firmly believe that the fortunes of Jet Airways are going to change once a new government is sworn to power in Delhi.
Jet Airways stopped operations on April 17 after facing a huge liquidity crunch and its vast workforce of over 20,000 employees was left jobless.
(The names of the Jet Airways have been not been taken as they requested anonymity)