Bajaj Auto that might face a workers’ strike at its Chakan plant from May 15, has received support from around 200 villages in and around the Chakan region. In a statement issued yesterday, Bajaj Auto has said that representatives of these villages have expressed concern of adverse effects that labour strikes have on existing industries – viz. declining manufacturing volumes, and also on new entrants who may hesitate to invest in the Chakan area in the near future.
This, representatives said, will create hardships for people relying on jobs in the region. It is because of this reason that the villages have extended their full cooperation to Bajaj Auto and have vouched to support the management in case of any issue that the company may face during the strike period.
Earlier this month, Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana (VKKS), an independent union of workers engaged at Bajaj Auto (BAL) across its Akurdi, Chakan and other plants, had issued a threat to go on strike and stop production of bikes at the Chakan plant from April 28. The plant is known to roll out the KTM Duke bikes, the Pulsar models, the Avenger and some export models. Subsequently, the union has deferred the proposed strike till May 15, saying that it was giving more time to the management to consider the union’s charter of demands which includes an allocation of CSR funds for education of employees' children and allotment of equity shares at a discounted price.
On March 17, Rajiv Bajaj, MD, Bajaj Auto, had dismissed their demands, saying, “If the demands of the union were somewhat preposterous the last time in June 2013, they are entirely insane this time around. We will be certain not to repeat that error while taking all possible care to ensure the safety of the majority of our colleagues who wish to continue to work, as also the continuity of production so as to protect the interests of our customers, dealers, and suppliers.”
Meanwhile, in a bid to pre-empt production losses due to the proposed strike, it is learnt that the company plans to shift around 50 percent of the Pulsar production from the Chakan plant to the Waluj plant in Aurangabad. Labour trouble has been frequenting the Indian automobile industry for the past few years. The month-long labour impasse at Toyota Kirloskar Motor’s Bidadi, Karnataka plant, only ended recently. Worker strife, coming at a time when the industry has been experiencing a downturn and recording poor or flat sales, can only spell a round of recurring trouble for automakers.