India’s plane maker faces lockdown over labour trouble

File Photo: A work floor at Light Combat Aircraft production facility of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, India’s lone plane maker.

Bengaluru: India’s lone plane-maker, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), is facing trouble with its labour unions, as an all-India body of employees issued a notice for an indefinite lock-down over wage revision related issues beginning Oct. 14 at all the nine manufacturing units.

The All India HAL Trade Unions Coordination Committee (AIHALTUCC) has issued the indefinite strike notice seeking settlement of wage revision, effective from Jan. 1, 2017, according to a statement from the state-owned company.

Earlier, on June 26, 2019, the anomalies in the demands of AIHALTUCC were brought to the public through a media release and the HAL management had sought the co-operation of the Unions based on realistic and affordable expectations.

“The AIHALTUCC without realizing the various limitations such as guidelines issued by Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has decided to resort to an indefinite strike to fulfill their untenable demands and the unreasonableness of their demands has been brought out in a number of meetings, the statement said.

The HAL management is open for discussions, and conclusion of wage revision effective from Jan. 1, 2017 can be achieved only with the co-operation of the Unions based on realistic and affordable expectations and demands, it said.

“The proposed indefinite strike by the Unions would neither be in the interest of the organisation nor the employees. (The) management has brought out that acceding to unrealistic and unsustainable demands would, while on the one hand contravene government’s guidelines and also impact the competitiveness of the company,” HAL said.

“The management also expects higher efficiency of workmen considering the present competitive scenario. In line with the extant statutory provisions, the proposed indefinite strike will be tantamount to illegal strike and workmen bound to lose various company benefits,” it said.

Management’s Views On Wage Revision

File Photo: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Logo

The wage revision of workmen in HAL is due from Jan. 1, 2017 and previous two revisions were effected from Jan. 1, 2007 and 2012, for a period of five years each. Salary revision of executives of the company was also due from Jan. 1, 2017 after 10 years and implemented during November 2017, as per the instructions issued by the DPE of the Government of India, based on the recommendations of third Pay Revision Committee.

As per the directives of DPE, negotiated scales of pay of workmen should not come in conflict with the scales of pay of executives and Central Public Sector Enterprises, where five years periodicity is followed, have to ensure that negotiated scales of pay for two successive wage revisions do not exceed the existing scales of pay of executives for whom 10 years periodicity is followed.

In line with the DPE guidelines, series of meetings for wage negotiation with the Unions were held (10 meetings with all the Unions and four meetings with the Conveners of the Unions). However, Unions have been insisting for more than 15 per cent fitment benefit and 35 per cent perks is more than that given to executives after a period of 10 years, whereas for workmen the last wage revision took place with effect from Jan. 1, 2012.

The percentage increase in wages likely to be derived by workmen with effect from Jan. 1, 2017 as per the present offer given by the management with reference to the 2007 Base will be comparable with the percentage increase derived by executives effective from Jan. 1, 2017 from the 2007 base.

Further, the percentage increase in wages of workmen in HAL, with reference to the 2007 base, would be comparable with the percentage increase in wages of workmen of other Defense Public Sector Companies from the 2007 base, where wage revisions were settled from Jan. 1, 2017 after 10 years.

Wage revision of workmen needs to be settled comparing the percentage increase derived by the executives from the 2007 scales to the 2017 scales and percentage increase for workmen already effected in 2007 scales to 2012 scales and now to the 2017 scales. Time and again the management has been explaining the position to the Unions but they have been adamant on their demands resulting in present stalemate.

The proposed indefinite strike will have adverse repercussions on the performance of the organisation in general and workmen in particular. Further, in the interest of national security and the need to maintain the fleet serviceability of Armed Forces, it is imperative that the workmen do not resort to such illegal strike and should settle for a fair and reasonable wage revision offered by the management.

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