Job-cuts put Pune city on morcha street

A cross-section of firms have fired staff, or attempted to fire them, over various issues. Unions have helped the workers ensure they are not going down without a fight.

pune Updated: Dec 19, 2017 16:13 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
job cut,workers union,labour commission
Bharat Forge workers during a protest rally for their various demands at the labour commissioner’s office at Wakadewadi on October 30, 2017.(HT FILE PHOTO)

It is not exactly an economic slow-down, but a look at the cross-section of companies that have been engaged in stand-offs with their workers over job-cuts suggests some negative effect in play.

When asked if there is a trend of job loss from an economic perspective in the city of Pune, Mahratta chamber of commerce industries and agriculture (MCCIA) director general, Anant Sardeshmukh says, “The economic state of the city is not bad, as such. One cannot comment on the overall job situation as there are various sectors involved.

“In IT, there is a concept of bench. In a competitive situation, because of external pressures and margins, you have to look at the overall costs. Now, HR cost is also included in it. For local establishments like Chitale Bandhu, although Chitale is not a small organisation, market situation dictates the job situation. So these instances that you have mentioned are industry specific. There is no alarming trend of job loss in the city.”

Looking at the macro view, Manasi Phadke, professor of economics at the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management and Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, talks US market - growth, but tough political conditions affecting Indian job seekers; Eurozone - various crises, putting pressure entirely on Germany which is wearing itself thin. And then India. “In India, we are yet to see growth in private investment,” is her bottom line on why growing job-cuts may be soon a norm rather than exception.

On the ground, in 2017, hundreds of workers in Pune had their jobs ambushed by factors like demonetisation to just, allegations, of bad management. The most recent is that of Pandit Auto.

Pandit Auto

The industrial court has put a stay on the sale of moveable, as well as non-moveable property owned by Pandit Auto until complaints filed by employees are addressed and their dues paid,” Kailas Kadam, head of the Hind Kamgaar Sanghatna (Hind Workers Association) told HT.

The workers of Pandit Auto, automobile dealers for Tata Motors, met with a lockout notice on December 5, after holding protests on December 1 and 4.

Listing reasons for the lock-out, the company wrote, “Our workers/employees resorted to consorted action of an illegal strike on December 1, 2017, at about 9 am, at the Sahakarnagar workshop premises. Thereafter, workers/employees commenced an illegal sit-down strike at Tathawade workshop premises on December 4, 2017, from around 5 pm and have continued to do so,” in the notice.

A Pandit Auto statement issued to the HT said: “Due to turbulence in the industry, the company is suffering financial stress for the past two years. There are substantial financial losses since 2015 due to a variety of reasons.”

DSK Toyota

While Pandit Auto claimed to have transferred employees, when city construction magnate DS Kulkarni shut down his Toyota operation, employees found themselves without a job. In November, a few employees staged a protest outside his house and at a DSK Toyota showroom which was shut down.

Kulkarni said that his company was undergoing financial difficulties and to return money to their investors, he had to shut down and pull money out of the Toyota showrooms in the city.

“The DSK business has been suffering for some time and the employees at various businesses have worked without salaries,” according to DS Kulkarni, who is now facing charges from the economic offences wing (EOW) for non-payment to investors.

Chitale Bandhu

Workers from Chitale Bandhu, the sweet and savoury major from the city, made claims of and low wages weeks before Diwali. The workers then approached the labour commissioner and the case has been heard four times in the past two months. The strike, however, came to an end in the last week of November and the workforce went back to their respective units.

Union heads complained of low wages to people who had worked for decades. Indraneel Chitale of the Chitale group said that no rules were flouted and workers were requested to return to work. Which they did.

Bharat Forge

Employees at the manufacturing plant owned and run by Kalyani Bharat Forge have approached the labour commissioner on various instances after their services were terminated. The employees claim that they were sacked for forming a union named the Bharat Forge Karmachari Sanghatana.

In November, at least five more employees were terminated without notice. Workers from the plant then held a protest outside the company premises in Mundhwa. Workers said that the termination was due to their involvement in the union.

First Published: Dec 19, 2017 16:10 IST