Possible partial strike at Hero as wage talks falter

Written by Roudra Bhattacharya | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 22 2013, 05:31am hrs
Even as Maruti Suzukis Manesar plant limps back to normalcy after last Julys violence and consequent shutdown, the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt may be staring at more labour unrest with Hero MotoCorp workers planning a partial strike from Wednesday.

The development follows the failure of Mondays wage negotiations at the countrys largest two-wheeler manufacturer. A partial strike which means going slow on production is expected to reduce output by 20-30%.

A source involved in the negotiations told FE that Heros Gurgaon plant union will present its strike notice to the Gurgaon additional labour commissioner on Tuesday. There was no solution at the meeting which started Monday morning and went on till evening. The labour department officer who was present has given a failure report to his superiors. With over 50 meetings failing to find a solution, the union feels it has no option but to use its last weapon, which is a production slowdown, the source said.

The strike call comes after workers started wearing black bands and boycotted company-provided snacks since January 4. Workers are demanding A R14-15,000 hike in monthly salaries, similar to recent wage deals at Maruti Suzuki and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter Indias plants in the vicinity.

Hero last week offered around half of what the union has been demanding a hike of R7,500, raising it from its previous offer of R6,500 for 1,400 permanent workers. The two-wheeler market leader aims to keep the Gurgaon wage hike at the same level at what it offered to its workers at its nearby Dharuhera plant under the 2011 wage deal.

Union sources added the company has been informed of the strike plan.

After the meeting, the Gurgaon additional labour commissioner called us to his office to reach a compromise, another source said.

So far, Hero MotoCorps wages have reportedly been the benchmark in the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt, but the revisions at HMSI and Maruti which work out across three years are expected to change this. Though substantial performance incentives are involved, a new joinee at Heros plant gets around Rs 40,000 a month, while average wages are around Rs 46,000. In comparison, a new joinee at HMSI gets around Rs 34,000, while a new Maruti worker gets about Rs 38,000.

The Gurgaon-Manesar auto belt has seen numerous labour disputes since around 2011, the most violent being the July 2012 violence at Marutis Manesar factory that claimed the life of a company HR official. Maruti itself has seen three separate instances of labour trouble and HMSI one, while auto component makers such as Rico Auto, Sunbeam Auto have faced such problems repeatedly.


* Workers plan to go slow on production; output may decline by 20-30%

* Company informed of strike notice to addl labour commissioner on Monday

* Silent protests with black bands & boycotting co snacks on since Jan 4

* Workers want average Rs.14-15,000 hike; company willing to give only Rs.6,500