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Bajaj Auto strike: Chakan deadlock traces its origin to Pantnagar, says union

Jul 03 2013, 17:56 IST
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SummaryBajaj Auto reports 20% decline in motorcycle sales in June

Weak demand and the ongoing labour troubles at Chakan plant seem to be hurting Bajaj Auto, which reported a 20% drop in sales during June 2013. The company sold only 2.54 lakh bikes in June this year compared to the 3.18 lakh it sold in June 2012. Total sales of two- and three-wheelers in June 2013 were down 14% to 2.95 lakh units. With 54% growth, three-wheeler sales showed recovery, clocking 41,205 units. Exports grew 4% in to 1.20 lakh units. For the April-June quarter of FY14, the company has seen a 9% drop in total sales and 12% drop in motorcycle sales.

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Bajaj Auto said the “illegal strike at Chakan caused a loss of 20,000 motorcycles.” Pradeep Shrivastava, the COO, had said on Monday that the demand for the company's products was not affected as they had enough inventory for the next four weeks. Bajaj Auto makes the Pulsar, Kawasaki Ninja, Avenger and KTM bikes at the Chakan plant.

The face-off between the workers and the company continued on the eighth day, with no hopes of workers returning to the shop-floor and the company expecting an unconditional resumption of work. Dilip Pawar, the Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana (VKSS) president, the recognised union of the company, has rejected all charges made by Shrivastava regarding the drop in productivity and demanded that a study be made by an independent third party about this. Regarding the Bajaj Auto management’s plan to approach the Pune Industrial Court with an application to declare the strike illegal, Pawar said they had not received any notice from the court. The VKSS president says trouble started for them because they tried to set up the VKSS union at Pantnagar.

The Pantnagar plant workers had started an agitation in May 2012 after getting a poor increment. “Some of the (Pantnagar) workers approached VKKS to support their agitation. The workers of Pantnagar knew that it is next to impossible to get union registration in Uttarakhand and, therefore, they requested VKKS for the membership. Considering their situation and request, VKKS gave them membership and the majority of workers from Pantnagar joined VKKS,” Pawar said.

According to the union, the argument of the Bajaj Auto management was that the registration of VKKS was only for Maharashtra and they don’t have the right to take up any membership from outside Maharashtra. The

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