Nearly 20,000 HAL Workmen Threaten Indefinite Strike Over Wages

Nearly 20,000 employees across seven states have threatened an indefinite hunger strike from 14 October.

Published11 Oct 2019, 04:16 PM IST
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Come 14 October, nearly 20,000 workmen of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) across nine units in seven states will begin an indefinite hunger protesting the delay in wage revision for over two years, since 2017.

The employees claim that while senior executives have been receiving their revised salaries for the last two years, HAL management is dragging its feet on revising the wages of the workmen.

Moreover, the management’s offer, of hiking the gross wages by 10 percent and an 18 percent increase in perks has not been accepted by the HAL Employees Association who are demanding their pay revision to be on par with senior executives, who have enjoyed a timely, comfortable hike in wages, ‘without any conditions’.

“The management is offering us 10 percent and 18 percent perks, while we are demanding 15 percent increase in gross salary and 35 percent hike in perks – the same as what executives have been extended in this company. HAL is the only company left where wage revision is due.”
Suryadev Chandrashekhar, Chief Convenor, All India HAL Trade Unions Coordination Committee

According to a company spokesperson, the demands of the workmen are ‘unsustainable’ and ‘unrealistic.

“Their demands are unrealistic and sustainable. They can’t compare themselves with executives who are more qualified and from top colleges... the work they do is different. We hope they see reason before they actually strike. Our doors are always open,” he said.

He added that providing the wage revision as per their demands would not just be detrimental to the company in the short term, by affecting their competitiveness, but also have a long-standing impact on the life of the PSU.

‘Citing Fund Crunch Only to Deny Wage Revision’

According to Chandrashekhar, the management is citing fund crunch merely as an excuse to deny the workmen the wages due to them.

“In the annual general body meeting of HAL, our board of directors, our chairman, MD and our director of finance have all clearly said that HAL is doing very well. And its growth rate has doubled and its profits have increased to their best level in recent times... so, I don’t think there is any fund crunch. Fund crunch is only an excuse to avoid wage revision,” he said.

Workmen too are hurting over the ‘unfair’ treatment.

“They (executives) get benefits in the same bracket as some ministers, but for us, it’s the opposite. We are the working class, and it’s because of us that HAL has received the ‘Navratna’ status. But when it comes to paying us, they say there are no funds,” said Arun Kumar, who works in HAL’s foundry and forge division.

‘A Govt Job Must Feel Safe Despite Drastic Changes’

“When it comes to a government job, everyone has the word‘safe’ on their lips. But times are changing, there are drastic changes. We also need to be safeguarded against the said changes. If I retire tomorrow, I need to be able to survive on that income.”
Mohan, HAL’s Overhaul Division

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