In the evening, employees finally left for the day but not before they roped in Maharashtra Navnirman Workers Sena to keep a check on the managment and ensure they did not shut shop overnight, leaving them high and dry. It all started with managaing director of Crest Seemha Ramanna coming to the heaquarters at Raheja Plaza in Ghatkopar on Saturday and announcing that company would not be able to sustain the team of 250-odd animators.
"She told us that 90 per cent of us will have to go. She also announced that from now on P Rajasekhar, former chief operating officer of the company, will be spearheading operations," said one of the employees.
The employees, who haven't been paid their salaries in months, nonetheless did not anticipate such a move. "For almost two years our salaries have been an issue. Salaries have been ariving late and at times we only get a portion of it. As of today our salaries for the past nine months are due. But in all this there hasn't been any talk of shutting the company down," said another employee, who has been with Crest for the past 15 years.
Insiders revealed that Ramanna suggested phase-wise payment of dues, with the first chunk coming by September. "We did not buy her talk as this is not the first time she has made such an offer. Last time she promised that our salaries would be paid in full by July 10 but when the date arrived she was nowhere to be seen," said an employee who has been with Crest for eight years.
Rajasekhar, who makes a return after having worked for Crest before 2011, also tried to pacify the employees, but in vain. He discussed a turnaround strategy that would allow them to reduce costs and re-hire most of the employees in next few months. This too did not go too well with employees, who immediately approached MNS. By afternoon, MNS workers knocked on Crest's doors. They announced to Ramanna that they had formed a union and any attempt to shut down the place or fire employees would not be taken lightly.
The stalemate however continued with Ramanna maintaining that there was no other way out and employees refusing to quit. In the evening, most employees left for their homes, while a few stayed back to keep an eye on the office. They feared that the management would wind up operations and move out on Sunday. The group has now decided that a few of them will stay back every night to keep vigil.
When Mumbai Mirror contacted Ramanna, she said she was caught up in meetings and would be able to talk later. Rajasekhar for his part explained that the company was going through a financial crisis.
"Crest does not intend to cheat any employee of his dues. Unfortunately, the company does not have resources to pay them all right now. Seemha Ramanna is single-handedly trying to keep the company afloat and all the employees must stand by her side in these testing times," he said.