The workers’ union at Bajaj’s Chakan plant has called a strike, demanding company shares for workers. The demand, which looks rather unreasonable, comes from union leader Dilip Pawar. The union, with the name Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana demands 500 shares for all workers at a price of Rs 1 per share. What that effectively means is that the workers are demanding that each one of them be given stock worth Rs 9 lakh for just Rs 500.
This is serious development in view of what the Industry leader Maruti Suzuki and earlier Honda faced is the past. Workers with unreasonable demands went violent, set the plant on fire and even killed one of the company officials in MSIL’s case. The whole auto industry must be looking at the scenario with interest and a fair bit of nervousness.
The union leader in question, Dilip Pawar, is known to have a history of face-offs with the company management. The man has allegedly been behind turbulence in Bajaj’s Pantnagar and Aurangabad plants as well. Bajaj alleges that Pawar is resorting to intimidation and violence and expect the police to swing into action before the situation goes out of hand.
Apart from the shares, the union also demands a 25% pay hike, making permanent the workers on contract and putting back into jobs some suspended employees.
The workers are demanding ESOPs even the senior management isn’t given any such privileges. That’s quite an absurd and unprecedented demand. Also, it’s not legal to give shares to a worker without consulting with the shareholders and at almost free.
While the demand of the workers may be arguably justifiable, union leaders wrongfully instigating workers to strike for getting kickbacks from the management isn’t a new phenomenon in India. Archaic labor laws, government’s apathy towards manufacturers and an inactive police have added up innumerable times in the past to put locks on industries which were once flourishing.
The government needs to chart out wage related rules which are equally applicable across industries. The minimum pay scales may be raised, but some ceiling definitions should also be in place so that there is homogeneity and equity in workers’ is payouts across industries and regions. Failing to do that will simply scare away the willing investors who plan to set their manufacturing plants here.
What do you think of the current scenario at Bajaj? Have you faced a labor issue in your plant sometime? Seen someone suffer due to unjustified demands of unscrupulous union leader? Do share your thoughts with us