250 Indage Vintners employees resign

250 Indage Vintners employees resign

Mumbai: At least 250 employees, including middle- and senior-level managers, of troubled wine maker Indage Vintners Ltd have resigned over the past two weeks after the company failed to pay them salaries since at least November 2008, said a company executive who is among those who put in their papers. He declined to be identified.

Indage, which had 450 employees on its rolls and 150 on contract in its Indian and overseas operations, has been under fire from unpaid employees for a couple of months.

However, another company executive said that the state labour ministry had last week asked the firm to clear the arrears in two tranches, of 40% by 31 August and the rest by October. Following this, a majority of the employees who have resigned have been issued post-dated cheques, said this executive who also did not want to be identified.

The immediate liability to the firm on account of the cheques for paying off the first part of salary arrears is between Rs8 crore and Rs10 crore, the executive added.

“The company has a financial liability of at least Rs450 crore to be paid off immediately," said another executive, who is leaving the firm shortly and did not want to be named.

An Indage spokesperson declined comment. Ranjit S. Chougule, managing director of Indage Vintners, did not return calls on Monday.

A former employee, who has received a cheque for 40% of his salary, said, “I have deposited the cheque, but will come to know whether the cheque will be honoured or not in a day or two."

Mint reported on 14 August that the promoters of Indage had pledged at least 97.9% of their 25.42% stake in the firm. Indage has been struggling with working capital needs, and has mounting debt due to overseas acquisitions and expansion into businesses such as Indian-made foreign liquor and hospitality over the past couple of years.