The unit is unable to meet market demand

Employees of HMT Machine Tools division in Kalamassery are cheering the new wages agreement that was signed on Wednesday.

But despite the positive move that came after a period of over 20 years, the unit is struggling to achieve its targets because of paucity of working capital and labour.

Market demand is buoyant and the HMT unit here has orders worth Rs. 60 crore this month, sources said on Thursday. This points to the fact that market demand for HMT has been sustained through these all years and the future would not be different.

The issue of shortage of working capital has been put across to the Union government, which has agreed to release Rs. 61 crore over two years for the five HMT Machine Tools divisions across India.

The decision was taken in Febrauary.

Short-staffed

But what the unit here urgently needs is more hands on its deck. Vacancies at the executive, administrative and worker levels need to be filled immediately, says John V. Daniel, Secretary of HMT Employees’ Federation, an independent union.

He said that the employee strength at the HMT unit here has fallen over 10 years from about 3,000 to the current 340.

About 250 of the employees and officers will retire by 2017-18 leaving only about 100 workers and officers, including new recruits.

This will create a situation in which experience will come at a premium at the HMT unit here, a situation that needs to be avoided for a machine tools division, he added.

Raising retirement age to 60 is one of the solutions being suggested by the employees’ unions to retain experienced hands so that they get enough time to train the new recruits.

‘Will increase turnover’

P. Krishnadas, Joint Secretary of HMT Employees’ Union (CITU), said even with the current manpower, employees are eager to raise the current business turnover of around Rs. 70 crore to Rs. 100 crore.

Trade unions had proposed this before the unit management, he added.

Vice-President of HMT Workers’ Congress (INTUC) M.J. Johnson said that the workers had welcomed the new wages agreement and expressed the hope that the working capital shortage would be solved soon.

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