Around 1,000 permanent workers on strike demanding hike in wages and allowances
Even after 82 days of a strike by workers at Larsen & Toubro (L&T)’s Hazira factory in Gujarat, a resolution seems far.
Around 980 permanent worksmen at the heavy engineering unit have been on strike demanding higher wages. The company is said to be losing Rs 1-1.5 crore a day. An L&T spokesperson said the plant was still running at about 70 per cent of planned output.
Harshad Parajiya, general secretary of the L&T Kamdar Union said, “We have had several meetings with the management, however, the issue is yet to be resolved. We want increment at the same level as L&T’s Powai (Maharashtra) unit.”
He said while L&T had offered a raise of Rs 6,750 to workers in Powai, they were offered only Rs 4,500 in raise.
“The average salary at Powai is in the range of Rs 35,000-45,000, and they were given a better hike as well. Here at Hazira, the average salary is around Rs 24,000-25,000.”
The L&T spokesperson said, “Reference to Powai salaries is irrelevant. Wages are determined on the basis of local market conditions, and our remuneration at Hazira is comparable with the better engineering industries in the area.”
Claiming that there would be no impact on long term outlook, he said, “It is the matter of discipline that is important.” When asked if the company was open to recruiting new workers, the spokesperson did not wish to divulge any details saying that, “At any given point of time, we always have options to ensure business continuity.”
A senior government official, who is closely monitoring the situation, explained that such hikes are worked out in every such company in a three or four year cycle. Every time the management proposes a hike, the workers too place their demand and eventually a figure acceptable to both parties is finalised.
“This is a peculiar case, when the workers are adamant to accept anything below Rs 6,750 as a hike, and the management too has refused to bow down under pressure. Hence, the impasse continues,” he said, adding that despite several meetings between the workers and the management, a mid-way settlement could not be reached.
The Gujarat government, on its part, had prohibitted the strike in December taking into account production loss, man days lost and wages lost.