In a complete U turn, Jet Airways Chairman, Mr. Naresh Goyal held a sentimental and emotional press conference and announced a reinstatement of all sacked employees.
In less than 24 hours claiming all staff are family, Mr. Goyal stressed it was an economic decision to lay off, but an emotional one to reinstate. Keeping in view, the criticism by all political parties, he took special pains to stress that this decision was not due to any political pressure.
Signs of pressure appeared when Petroleum minister Mr. Murli Deora, rebuffed the requests of the Civil Aviation Minister Mr. Praful Patel to help bail out the airlines with lower fuel prices. Both Mr. Deora and Mr. Patel are from Mumbai, the home of Jet Airways, and the corporate head quarters of alliance partner Kingfisher Airlines.
Mr. Goyal is known to be extremely concious of his public image and needs a sympathetic ear from government to function well. The sacking of the employees would save only about Rs. 5 million.
Given the extreme negative reaction by the public at large and the politicians in particular, it appears that Mr. Goyal has very correctly decided that the negatives far outweighed any potential savings.
The signal to India Inc., is simple. No matter how bad the economy, large scale sacking of employees is politically very incorrect.