The issue of wage revision at SAIL, pending for over 18 months, is expected to be settled this week, benefitting around 85,000 non-executives with at least 15% hike in basic and dearness allowances. The differences involving the rate hike are likely to be ironed out at the proposed meeting between the management of state-owned steel maker and the National Joint Committee for Steel (NJCS), an umbrella unit of the unions at SAIL's different plants, according to a source. "NJCS has been demanding 21.6% hike in basic and dearness allowances for non-executives, while the management of SAIL is not ready to shell out more than 15% as the current industry situation is not conducive for such a steep hike," the source said. NJCS has been countering the management argument, saying that it was asking only what was given in the previous time in 2007. SAIL hikes the wages every five years. The latest one has been due since January 1, 2012. The source said: "The meeting is scheduled for August 24. The matter will be finalised there, and the negotiations are still going on. The management wants to settle it as quickly as possible.
It has already conveyed to the union officials that the delay would also mean loss for workers as SAIL gives benefits prospectively, not retrospectively." The market condition won't allow the management to go beyond 15%, sources said, adding that matching the earlier hike of 21.6% is just not possible. When contacted, SAIL Director Finance Anil Choudhary refused to comment on the wage revision issue. However, a source in the company said the management has already communicated its offer for a 15% hike to NJCS, which is believed to be discussing the issue among members. "We have already communicated to them that are willing to go up to 15%. They may be consulting among themselves. I don't think they are yet to make up their minds," he said. SAIL's manpower declined to under one lakh, as on June 30. However, its wage bill for the April-June quarter went up due to higher provisioning for wage revision and actuarial impact. The company had clocked 35.25% dip in standalone net profit to Rs 450.91 crore during the first quarter of the current fiscal due to increased costs.