The situation at Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), Pinjore, is so bad nowadays that they switch off power during lunch break to save money as losses mount by the minute.
HMT was once the backbone of the tractor industry in India. Company’s power bill alone is Rs 60 lakh per month and in 2014-2015, the unit suffered a loss of Rs 131 crore, while in the previous year it was Rs 93 crore.
The employees have not received their salaries for the past 17 months while in the machine tools division, the salaries have not been disbursed for the past 10 months.
“All my finances have been used up. My house is running on loans. My children are studying in colleges. I do not have money to pay their fees. Life has become so difficult. But where shall we go?” said Ravinder Singh, 53, a worker. He has been working at the unit for the last 28 years. “We all have similar stories of deprivation to narrate. The ministry must find a solution. The central government must support us,”said Mahinder Singh, president of the HMT Karmik Sangh (employees’union).
Everyone at the Pinjore unit knows that one day it would be shut down. They are all waiting for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) announcement.
The capacity of the tractor division is to produce 700 tractors every month but presently it has come down to 100. HMT tractors have a market in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka but the unit is not able to produce many.
A package of Rs 1,083 crore was given to the Pinjore unit in 2013 but still Rs 250 crore are yet to be released.
“There are a number of reasons for HMT running into losses. Mismanagement, government apathy and higher cost of production are primarily responsible for the current situation. There has not been a single recruitment since 1993,”said a senior official.
After every 3-4 months, the employees across the board do get Rs 5,000-10,000 from the sale of tractors. Since the year 2000, the unit is incurring losses.