Protesting Bajaj Auto workers blink, 15-month stalemate ends

Aug 17 2014, 01:10 IST
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A file picture of protesting Bajaj Auto workers. Express Archives A file picture of protesting Bajaj Auto workers. Express Archives
SummaryUnion agrees to marginal hike over managements February offer

The 15-month-long dispute with workers ended on Saturday for Bajaj Auto, giving it much-needed time and focus for regaining market share. The wage revision battle between Bajaj Auto and its Chakan plant labour union, Vishwakalyan Kamgar Sanghatana, ended with the workers signing the wage agreement with the company, which gave them a hike between R9,000 and R10,000.

This is only a marginal increase from what the Bajaj Auto management had offered the workers in February 2014, but had been rejected by the workers. The total additional amount is around R1,280. Of this, R1,000 will be reward for regular monthly attendance. Canteen food, for which the company deducted R100, would be free and workers will pay R180 less toward transport cost. The effective wage increase would be between R10,280 and R11,280.

Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto, said the Chakan wage agreement exercise had been a lose-lose situation. The organisation has lost out on the production of its most profitable products, its internal culture has been sullied, as also to some degree its external image. The employees have suffered financially and emotionally. While it always takes two hands to clap, in my view the primary responsibility for this forgettable experience rests with the union and a handful of their members who misled and bullied the rest, Bajaj said. In the end none, of their demands were met, all of which were, as Ive maintained from the very beginning, utterly ridiculous, he said.

Time will tell whether the union has unambiguously understood that this is a management that will never compromise its principles. Nevertheless, it would not have been a complete waste if the union has come to appreciate that putting the long-term strategic interest of the business, and the well being of the employees, ahead of their own selfish short-term material interests is the only prudent option before unions in today's times, Bajaj added.

The delay in wage revision had led to a 50-day plant closure between June and August 2013. The workers were fighting the case in the industrial court in Pune, with the company also taking the dispute to the High Court. The hearing in the cases had not reached any conclusion.

Now with the signing of the agreement, all cases filed by the union and the company management have been withdrawn, Kailash Zanzari, VP, manufacturing (motorcycles), Bajaj Auto said. The CTC to workers has gone up from R25,000 to

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