Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jet, set, and you're fired

After Jet Airways had announced that nearly 1,900 employees would be laid off due to operations affected by mounting aviation fuel prices, downturn in air traffic and the global financial crisis, it was understandable that the fired employees would be upset. But what we witnessed after they were made aware of the termination of their services is something that we've sadly gotten used to, and something that is completely uncalled for and totally hypocritical.

Working in the private sector has its fair share of advantages, but also disadvantages. The young 'professionals' (who acted anything but professional), like all young graduates in India, are fully aware of the mantra about the Indian job scene: private sector pays you very well, but your job security is at the mercy of the vagaries of the economic scene, while in the government sector, you may not get paid as well as in the private sector, but you certainly have job security. Why the youngsters chose to take leave of their senses at the time they need it the most is most baffling. Don't get me wrong, I fully sympathise with them, and also know that my sympathy won't bring them any succour. But the fact of the matter remains that these people cannot blame their employers because firstly, they were the ones who applied for a job with Jet and no one forced them to join, and second, had there been no economic crisis, would these people have quit Jet airways and other private airlines because they have a hire-and-fire policy, which surprisingly seems to have come to light inside their otherwise poorly lit heads only now? If there was anything illegal in the procedure followed, then yes, there is a legitimate case to be made, but in this case, it's just a way to reduce costs at a bad time.

Another rather odd observation during their protest was many of the employees were seen and heard shouting "Mallya, go back!". What's the deal with that? Do these people think they're being fired because there is a proposed alliance between the two (alliance, and not a merger)? The alliance is in response to the crisis, and aims to cut the use of fuel by flying aircraft from two different airlines to the same destination, which not only makes good business sense, it's also a good way to stop a national waste of fuel, on the same lines as a car pool being very effectively used in many cities. What needs to be questioned here are the motives of the employees who've gone around shouting and ranting.

Now at the risk of earning the ire of those reading this, I'll go ahead and say this: one can be certain that if there was an alliance or partnership proposed during a healthier time for the economy, one that would undoubtedly have brought in extra largess to the employees, they would have even flossed Vijay Mallya's backside with their tongues, and happily. Such hypocritical behaviour is what the employers will need to take into account if they plan to rehire those fired if the situation improves. I hope for the sake of our economy that the crisis soon ends and the employment rate picks up, which would only result in an improved GDP. But after realising that many of the fired employees approached MNS chief Raj Thakeray, I only realised one sad truth, which is that most people are willing to stoop to the very levels they loathe and condemn at most other times. Sigh! The truth really stinks.

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