Bharat Forge employees union seeks reversal of Chakan plant layoffs during lockdown

By: |
January 5, 2021 3:15 AM

The employees union of Bharat Forge has asked the company to reverse the layoffs made during the lockdown at the Chakan plant.

The union at Chakan has 210 permanent workers and only 40 of them have been retained by the company.

The employees union of Bharat Forge has asked the company to reverse the layoffs made during the lockdown at the Chakan plant. The company had laid off 167 workers at the Chakan plant in August 2020, citing the difficulties caused by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. The Bharat Forge Employees Union in Chakan said that while production had resumed at the plant, workers with over 20 years of service have not been called back to work.

The union has filed a case in the Mumbai High Court, claiming that the layoffs were illegal and that the company should recall the 167 employees, said Santosh Tambe, a member of the union. Workers are getting only 50% of their basic and dearness allowance wages and are finding it difficult to sustain, Tambe said.  The company had two rounds of VRS in 2020, but no worker at the Chakan plant opted for it as people want to hold on to their jobs, he said. The union at Chakan has 210 permanent workers and only 40 of them have been retained by the company and they continue to work at the plant. The wage agreement at the Chakan plant has also been overdue for two years, Tambe said.

According to Tambe, there were 11 lines at the Chakan plant but some of them have been moved to the company’s Baramati plant but it is adding new lines for electric mobility so there is production at the plant and enough work for workers at the Chakan plant, he said. The plant makes crankshaft, knuckles, gears, shaft and T Cap for automotives.
Bharat Forge’s main plant in Pune at Mundhwa too has seen a delay in wage agreement. Workers at Bharat Forge’s Mundhwa plant have been waiting for a wage settlement for 18 months, Santosh Sable, general secretary of the Bharat Forge Kamgar Sangh Mundhwa, said. To protest against the delay, an indefinitely fast was scheduled from January 5, 2021 by the Bharat Forge Union, but it has been called off for now, Sable said.

The protest was put off after the company assured the union that the wage agreement issues would be resolved in 15 days, Sable said. Bharat Forge’s VP of industrial Relations and Administration, Abhijeet Shah, urged them not to go on an indefinite fast and instead resolve issues through talks. He assured the workers union that the company management would try and resolve the matter in 15 days. Negotiations were going on between the union and the company management and all issues regarding wage rise have to be sorted out only through talks, Shah said in his letter to the Union.

The Mundhwa plant has around 1,500 workers. Around 300 workers are over 50-years-old and 400 workers are over 40-years-old. The company has tried to trim its workforce at the Mundhwa plant through two rounds of VRS. There was no interest and only three workers opted to take the VRS, Sable said. Workers did not find the package attractive and were looking for better terms in the next round of VRS, which was expected soon, Sable said.

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