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Production likely to be hit at Hero over workers' protest

Workers threaten to slow down production over inconclusive wage talks

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may be affected at the country’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp’s Gurgaon facility with wage negotiations between the workers and the management at the company remaining inconclusive today. Representatives of Workers’ Union today said the workers are considering sterner measures including slowing down production processes starting tomorrow to press ahead with their demand for better wages.

A union bearer of Hero MotoCorp Workers Union (HMCWU) told Business Standard, “The management is refusing to consider our demands. We have so far been protesting peacefully, but will now go slow in production work starting tomorrow to press for our demands.”

A tripartite meeting between the workers and the management was held at Gurgaon’s additional labour commissioner’s office today morning in which the company’s management adhered to their previous offer of Rs 7500 increase in wages for permanent workers at the Gurgaon unit spread over a period of three years. The hike being offered by the company is less than half of what is being demanded by the permanent workers at the factory.

“We produce 6000-7000 two-wheelers at the Gurgaon unit, which is more than what is produced at Honda’s two-wheeler unit in Manesar. Then why should we not be given a similar hike”, said a member of HMCWU. The workers at Hero MotoCorp have been asking for a similar increment as at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India’s (HMSI) Manesar unit, where a 50 per cent of Rs 14,770 in monthly salary was announced recently.

The workers have so far been protesting peacefully and have been wearing black arm-bands to work for over two weeks. They had stopped taking tea and snacks offered by the company. Besides, slowdown in production, the workers are also considering holding a rally outside the Gurgaon facility.

Hero MotoCorp employs around 1200 permanent workers and 4000 contract workers at its Gurgaon facility. The average salary of a permanent worker at Gurgaon currently is around Rs 32,000 which goes up to as much as Rs 38,000 for more experienced employees.

A person in know of the talks said, “It is unlikely that a settlement would be reached any time soon.Hero was the leading paymaster in the auto industry prior to the wage hikes at Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and HMSI. So it is difficult for them to give increments similar to what has been offered by other companies. Also, if the wage increase at Gurgaon is significantly higher than that given to workers at Dharuhera, it would create dissent within workers in the company.”

The employees at the Gurgaon unit, however, have become restless due to slow progress in wage talks which have been on since August 2012.

Before the violent labour unrest broke out at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar unit, the workers at the unit too had expressed dissent over delays in wage settlement with the company management and had started sporting black arm bands and stopped attending morning exercises. Over a period of two years, four instances of labour trouble at the unit had caused Maruti Suzuki production loss of around 160,000 units and revenue loss of over Rs 5000 crore.

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