The labour dispute at Force Motors has reached the labour commissioner’s office. Family members of the company’s workers led a march to the firm's Akurdi plant on Tuesday to protest against the 10- year delay in signing a wage agreement.
Ten women, wives of the workers, had been sitting on an indefinite fast for the last 10 days and three of them were admitted to the hospital.
There is a litigation going on between the company and its workers’ union over recognition and the case is pending in the Supreme Court.
The industrial dispute is regarding who will represent the workers as there are two rival unions in the company — the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS) and the Pune Employees Union (PEU)-AITUC. BKS was the recognised union earlier which was challenged by the PEU. This case has moved from the lower industrial court to the high court and ultimately in 2009 the case went to the Supreme Court.
The Akurdi plant of Force Motors makes the best selling Traveller brand LCV, tractors and buses. Workers did not halt production and continued to work even as their family members agitated at the company gates. The plant used to have 2, 200 workers when the dispute started and now it has reduced to around 500 permanent workers.
The workers’ representatives say that they have got no objection certificate from both the BKS and the PEU to negotiate a wage agreement directly with the company, but the company refuses to negotiate. The last agreement between the workers' union and company was signed in 2001 and since then there has been no agreement.
The workers on Tuesday demanded that they want the company to deal directly with the workers and negotiated the wage settlement. A delegation met the company representatives after the march and the company has said it will be making a fresh set of proposals that will be presented to the additional labour commissioner.
The company management was not available for any comment on these developments but issued a statement saying that workers were to blame for the present status and said it was not a dispute between the company and management and that it was purely a fight between the rival trade unions.