Even as the strike by the trade union at Bajaj Auto’s Chakan plant in Pune enters third week, both sides seem to have hardened their positions.
While the management has termed the strike illegal and has stuck to its stand, the main labour union, which had approached the Labour Commissioner, has garnered support from scores of trade unions in the Pune industrial cluster to further strengthen its stand. Although conciliatory talks are still on, production at the unit has been hit.
The reason for the strike, which has been on since June 25, is the union’s demand for an allotment of 500 shares for each of its 925 employees at Re.1 per share and also higher wages.
Dilip Pawar, President, Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatna (VKKS), the recognised union at Bajaj Auto, told The Hindu that “of the 1,600 workers employed at the plant, 925 are permanent and belong to the union. Less than 500 are reporting for work, most of them being contract labourers and trainees.’’
“If the issues are not resolved in the next few days, all unions who are with us will strike work,’’ said a BAL employee and member of VKKS.
The Labour Commissioner of Pune also reportedly issued show-cause notices to BAL and labour contractors for employing contract labourers for non-core jobs at the Chakan assembly line.
The company, meanwhile, insisted that Chakan’s operations were not severely impacted and was working at about 80 per cent capacity. The unit makes around 3,000 units of Pulsar, and 300 units each of the Avenger and KTM bikes per day. It now makes around 2,400 units per day and production at the Waluj unit is being upped from 800 units to 1,000 units of Pulsar per day to meet demand, Kailash Zanzari, Vice President-Manufacturing, Motorcycles division, BAL, told The Hindu.
He said that the union had been pressurising the management over the last six months and had slowed down production.
The company signed a wage agreement with the union in 2010 for nine years till 2019 with a review of the salary due every three years. “The last review was done in April 2013 and the union terminated the settlement unilaterally on March 9, 2013.
“The union is insisting on an entirely new agreement and also on the issuing of highly discounted equity shares,’’ Mr. Zanzari said.