The spectre of labour trouble at the Chakan plant of Bajaj Auto has once again reared its head, with the recognised union at the plant, Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana (VKS), rejecting the wage increment offered by the management. The offer, made by the management on Saturday night, was to come into immediate effect. It proposes three slabs—a raise of Rs. 10,000 for workers with more than five years experience, Rs. 9,500 for workers with 3-5 years and Rs. 9,000 for those with three years experience.

VKS claims to represent more than 1,000 workers of the 1,400 workers employed at the plant, and its president, Dilip Pawar, was to have sat on a protest fast but that has been postponed pending conciliatory talks to be held on Tuesday. The workers had gone on strike for 50 days from June 25, 2013 to August 13, 2013 at the same plant.

“We demand more. By giving three slabs, they are trying to divide the workers,” Dilip Pawar, President, VKS, told this correspondent. “Workers at the JCB plant close by have received a hike of Rs. 16,000 per month, and we want at least Rs. 15,000. We also want the re-instatement of 18 of our fellow workers who have been suspended pending investigations and two workers who were dismissed.”

Kailash Zanzari, Vice-President, Motorcycles, Bajaj Auto, said the offered salary review was final. “There cannot be any further negotiation on it. The average cost to company of an average Chakan workman is now Rs. 35,000 per month, and we will be the highest paying employer in Chakan – even better than multi-national auto companies located around here.”

Other automobile players with factories in the area include General Motors, Volkswagen, Fiat and Mahindra & Mahindra. Bajaj’s Chakan plant has the capacity to make 3,500 motorcycles per day, and it makes the Pulsar, Avenger and KTM bikes at the facility.

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