Sachiin Joshi backs Rs 3 crore donation, former employees claim non-payment of dues

Updated: May 07, 2020, 08:09 IST | Mohar Basu | Mumbai

Even as actor-businessman Sachiin Joshi backs Rs 3 crore food donation plan for frontline workers, several former employees of Viiking Ventures claim non-payment of dues.

Sachiin Joshi
Sachiin Joshi

As several stars pledged contributions to aid the fight against the Coronavirus, actor-businessman Sachiin Joshi announced a Rs 3 crore programme to distribute food packets to the frontline workers. The move came as a surprise to former employees of Joshi's Viiking Ventures, who have claimed non-payment of dues over past several months.

Taskeen Naik, who had joined as the social media head, and public relations officer to the chairman in August 2018, says she has been waiting for her full and final payment to be cleared since her exit in May 2019. "When I personally reached out to Mr Joshi, he blocked my number. Despite following up [with the HR team] every month, I have yet to be paid," she rues.

This paper is in possession of a document that lists 30 former employees of Viiking Ventures and its communications wing Think Tank, whose salaries have not been cleared since as early as March 2019. The cumulative amount stands at a little over Rs 30 lakh.

Krishna Choudhary, former marketing manager at the company that has verticals across FMCG products, realty and entertainment, reveals that since his joining in October 2018, the salaries would usually be deferred. "On March 26, 2019, Mr Joshi sent an e-mail assuring that the salaries will be timely from April. That month, they cleared all our salaries up to February 2019. But I was not paid a dime after that. I tendered my resignation in June, and have since been pursuing the HR to clear my four months' salary. While my pleas fell on deaf ears, the department sent an e-mail last December citing lack of funds as the reason for delayed payments. How does the company have money for charity, but not to pay our pending salaries?"

A snapshot of the complaint  submitted to the Chief Labour Commissioner by an employee
A snapshot of the complaint  submitted to the Chief Labour Commissioner by an employee  

When mid-day reached out to Joshi, his spokesperson issued a statement that read, "We hired a particular CEO [now no longer with us] who undertook unlawful practices and fraud, with a bunch of employees. All those people working with the said CEO are now under scrutiny and their payments are being held. The procedure should be completed by end of June 2020. Those who are given a clean chit will get their rightful dues, and the management will take legal action against those found guilty."

However, the former employees in question maintained that they were not informed about being part of an ongoing investigation. Interestingly, another former employee, on condition of anonymity, revealed that he had joined the company in May 2019 — long after the said CEO's departure — and was still subjected to similar fate. "Of my eight-month stint, I have not been paid for three-and-a-half months. I was not allowed inside the office premises when I went to meet Mr Joshi. When he recently went live on Instagram, many [former employees] asked him to clear their dues, in the comments section. I'm contemplating legal action."

Joshi was in the news in 2017 when he bought Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Villa in Goa for Rs 73 crore in a bank auction.

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