The video in which representatives of VIM Airlines’ workforce are warning the company's bankruptcy manager that they are going to start protest actions was published on the Internet. They see no other way to draw the attention of the authorities and the public to their problem.
It all started back in 2017 when VIM Airlines stopped paying salaries to its employees. Former top managers of the company have already served their sentences in pre-trial detention and under house arrest but rank-and-file employees have not been paid yet.
The airline was filed for bankruptcy in February 2018.
A buyer (OOO Gershwin) was found for Bratsk Airport, one of the assets of a bankrupt company. The airport was valued at 495 mln rubles ($6.82 mln.) It was expected that the bankruptcy trustee would use the money to pay off wage arrears. This sum was sufficient to clear the debt but the terms of the contract could not be fulfilled as the asset was still under arrest. The account remains frozen, and the employees have not been paid for several months.
Olga Sherstneva, a representative of the company’s employees, says in the video that one of the previous investigators promised them that the arrest would be lifted and the salaries would be paid “as soon as we have won the suit to change the order of payment” as they were “only waiting for that ruling.” There were 7 investigators during 4 years of the investigation. The case was won but the arrest has still not been lifted. “We have been deceived,” says the workers' representative. “The entire workforce has been deceived.”
“We are all hostages of the Investigative Committee,” said the company’s employees in comments on the situation. “They are now putting the workforce into even greater debt by their actions, or rather by their inaction. Those who are supposed to protect our rights, are violating them flagrantly at the moment. It is because of them that we are not getting our money.”
Around 1,300 of VIM Airlines’ workers have not been paid their hard-earned money since 2018. There are pilots, flight attendants, and back-office staff among them. Olga Sherstneva, a former flight attendant at VIM Airlines, says that many of her colleagues are in dire straits. Many have had their accounts seized due to non-payment of loans and mortgages.
The people, who have not received their salaries for four years, have tried to get explanations from the IC about their prospects but to no avail. Sherstneva phoned the investigator, sent petitions and invited the IC for a round-table discussion. “As a representative of the workforce, I was simply ignored,” she said. Therefore, VIM Airlines’ employees decided to fall back on the last two measures: to start protesting and to write an appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.