Delay in wage deal at Bajaj Auto strains worker management ties

Written by fe Bureau | Pune | Updated: Feb 4 2014, 16:21pm hrs
Bajaj AutoBajaj Auto's delay in the wage agreement has led to tension at the plant. (AP)
Relations between the workers at Bajaj Auto and the management are beginning to get strained yet again even as negotiations are under way for a new wage agreement.

The delay in the wage agreement has led to tension at the plant. Workers registered their protest against the delay in Gandhigiri' style. The Bajaj Auto union, Vishwakalyan Kaamgar Sanghatana (VKS), presented flowers to the management and supervisory staff of the Chakan plant on Friday and thanked them for the delay in the wage settlement.

The president of the VKS, Dilip Pawar, said the workers had returned to work after their 50-day strike on August 14, 2013, on the assurance that the management would talk to them after they restored production. It was now 10 months since talks on a new wage settlement began but there was no settlement in sight, he said.

We have restored 90% of the production. Discussions are going on but they have not yielded results and there is a lot of discontentment among workers, Pawar claimed. The company had suspended the union representatives Mahesh Khanapurkar and Dnyaneshwar Rokde and co-workers Sunil Kshirsagar and Vijay Kumbhar on February 1 after their protest, Pawar said.

The VKS Union was now deciding the future course of action and planned a peaceful protest. A meeting with the Shramik Ekta Mahasangh, an umbrella body of labour unions in the Pimpri-Chinchwad region, was likely to be held later in the week.

KJ Zanzari, vice-president, manufacturing, motorcycle, Bajaj Auto, said the union had terminated the agreement and the company was talking to it but expectations were very high. Those who have completed four to five years on the job and are earning around Rs 25,000 want their wages to be hiked by Rs 20,000, Zanzari said.

They had started with demands of 100% hike and have come down to 80%, he said. The hike should be reasonable and not an offshoot of somebody's imagination, Zanzari said.

He said the recent decline in the company's motorcycle sales would not have any bearing

on the negotiations with workers, he said. He was hopefully of arriving at a settlement but could not commit how long it would take.

Bajaj's Chakan plant manufactures the Pulsar, KTM and Avenger brand of motorcycles and it has a capacity to make 1.2 million bikes annually. Bajaj Auto has reported a 8% decline in sales to 3.18 lakh units in January 2013. Motorcycle sales fell by 7% to 2.81 lakh units in January 2014 while three-wheeler sales dropped 20% to 36,781 units. Exports went up by 7% to 1.37 lakhs in January 2014.