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Corporate Oct 5, 2012

For once, Mallya, overcome your big ego and talk

By Rajesh Pandathil

Those who give you a serpent when you ask for a fish may have nothing but serpents to give. It is then generosity on their part. --Kahlil Gibran

The Kingfisher plot has taken an unexpected, tragic and dangerous turn. With the suicide of an employee's wife on Thursday, now the focus has clearly shifted to the staff plight.

Even for a pink newspaper like The Economic Times, Kingfisher today is more about the staff than about the options for Vijay Mallya's businesses.

The media attention for the suicide is, however, a double-edged sword. While the pathetic condition of the employees has to get the due importance, it may also spin the situation out of control.

"Emotions are running high now," a staff has been quoted as saying in a report in ET.

Vijay Mallya, the staff accuse, has time for cricket and racing but not for sending a condolence message to the bereaved family.

Fortunately for Mallya, the relief has come as the Income Tax Department has de-frozen its Rs 60 crore bank accounts in time.

Media reports say lenders, who have Rs 7,500 crore debt exposure to the airline already, have released Rs 60 crore to the airline, which has extended its lockout to 12 October.

The cash should come as a welcome relief for the staff.

According to a report on ibnlive.com, the management will be meeting employees again on Friday to negotiate the wage issues. While the talks with talks with Kingfisher's Bangalore and Delhi staff failed on Thursday, CEO Sanjay Agarwal will meet the Chennai employees today.

As for employees, they should be accepting the salary initially, even if it is just for one month, and negotiate further.

The management, on the other hand, should overcome its ego for once, given the gravity of the situation, and release the salary even if it is for one month and then negotiate.

"There is blood on the management's hands," a staff has been quoted as saying in the ET report.

But is it only on the management's hand? What about the DGCA and aviation ministry, who have been dragging their feet on taking action against the management?

Mallya will have to act fast, if he doesn't want to go down the history as the worst business man ever.

by Rajesh Pandathil

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