Millennium Post

Agitating unions warn Bajaj Auto of mass work stoppage

Demanding an immediate resolution to the 11-day-old agitation by the Chakan plant employees of Bajaj Auto, an umbrella organisation of trade unions has threatened mass stoppage of work in the Chakan and nearby Pimpri-Chinchwad industrial belt.

The company has, however, already approached the Pune industrial court, seeking to get the stir declared illegal.The company officials also say the agitation has not had much impact on production, as a part of production has been shifted to the Aurangabad facility.

In a letter to the Upper Labour Commissioner of Pune, Shramik Ekta Mahasangh, which claims representation of the 88 trade unions in the region and affiliation to Industrial All (Global) Union of Geneva, has asked the department to intervene in the matter and resolve the crisis.
If the Bajaj strike is not sorted out, the agitation may spill over to the entire industrial belt in the vicinity, said the letter. The Chakan belt, famous for its focus on the auto sector, is home to a host of big industry names including the Tatas, the Mahindras, the Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, among others.

The Mahasangh claimed that the agitation at the Bajaj plant has been peaceful and that the management should look into their demands and arrive at an amicable solution.

'Our demands including the one on wage revision are Justified, as unlike the management's claim that workers are bound by an agreement which lasts for nine years till 2019, we need to bring it to the notice that there is a also clause in the same agreement that provides wage revision in three years,' union leader Dilip Pawar claimed. A company official, however, said it is the union, which arbitrarily terminated the agreement in March despite the management assuring them of undertaking a review of the wage agreement.

'We had even invited the union for discussions to review but early March they terminated the agreement on their own,' Bajaj Auto vice president for motorcycle business Kailash J Zenzari said.

Around 1,500 employees, including 600-odd contract, temporary and 'earn and learn' workers, have stopped work at the Chakan plant since June 25, demanding wage revision, better work conditions and stock options.Meanwhile, Bajaj union said its agitation will continue as long as its demands are met fully. For the past 11 days, there has been almost no production at the Chakan plant, Pawar said. I Justifying the suspension of some of the employees, Zenzari said the action was taken against them as they failed to increase productivity despite several advisories and warnings.
'We noticed that while the one shift was giving the normal output, around 1,000 bikes in 8 hrs, the other one was churning out only 750 units in the same period since October. ,' he said.

He also said the company has already shifted production of around 1,000 units to Aurangabad while the Chakan plant is also producing as much as 1,100 units per day. The Chakan plant rolls out a range of premium bikes including the Pulsar, the two KTM Duke models, and the Avenger among others.

The workers' demands include a 25 per cent wage hike, making contract workers permanent apart from taking back those suspended and reversing the transfer orders of some workers back to the Chakan plant. The union also wants the company to issue 500 shares each to all the unionised workers at a nominal price of Rs 1 per share which are quoting over Rs 1880 apiece through an employee stock option scheme, if the management cannot hike the wages, a demand which was rejected by the management.
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