Bajaj Auto offered a Rs 10,000 wage hike to its workers at the Chakan plant on Saturday night, few hours before the workers' union president was to begin his indefinite hunger strike.
The management displayed the notice at night when the workers of the second shift were on duty. The wage hike was to come into immediate effect after a written acknowledgement from the workers.
A notice signed by Kailas Zanzari, vice-president, motorcycle (manufacturing), proposed wage hike in three slabs — a raise of Rs 10,000 for workers with five and above years of working experience, Rs 9,500 for workers with three to five years of experience and Rs 9,000 for workers with up to three years of experience.
On Sunday morning, the union held a meeting and decided to postpone the hunger strike call. But the recognised union, Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana (VKS) and its president, Dilip Pawar, have rejected this new offer.
Pawar, who was to start his fast on Sunday, told workers that he has taken this decision to
postpone the fast to allow for one last chance to resolve the issue with the management.
Pawar said the union was not given a copy of the notice and no worker was going to sign such an agreement and this was not the legal way of doing it. “We will seek legal opinion on this matter and decide our next move,” Pawar said. The union also saw this as an attempt the disrupt the unity of the union. “We want a uniform wage hike,” Pawar said.
Zanzari stated that management’s offer on the wage package was final and there could be no further discussion on this beyond what was offered and displayed on the notice board. This was the final offer as far as CTC was concerned but if they had other issues the company would continue to meet and discuss, Zanzari said.
The company in a statement said the R10,000 hike was the best in the Chakan belt. But the workers said companies such as JCB had given a higher raise to its workmen and they wanted Bajaj to offer the same. The union was demanding a wage hike between R13,500- R16,000. “In Chakan belt, the wage agreement of JCB is the best and we had been demanding that our wage revision should be better than the JCB, given BAL’s history and economic prosperity,” he said.
The company said a settlement was signed in May 2010 with the VKS for a period of nine years from 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2019, with a condition to review the wages every three years.
The wage review was due on April 1, 2013. The union terminated the settlement in March 2013 and submitted fresh charter of demands. The union raised an industrial dispute before the additional commissioner of labour, Pune and it is pending before the Industrial Tribunal, Pune, for adjudication.
The workers also went on a 50-day strike in 2013 over wage settlement. After returning to work in August 2013, the management and workers continued negotiations and have held meetings but had so far failed to come to an
The workers complained about the company delaying the wage agreement while the company management called the demands exorbitant and irrational.
The Shramik Ekta Mahasangh, an umbrella body of labour unions in the Pune region, was scheduled to hold a meeting with the Bajaj Auto management to intervene on behalf of the Bajaj workers union and resolve the issue.