The employees’ union of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Tuesday, June 25, held a relay hunger strike demanding settlement of wages and salaries at par with other public sector undertakings. Nearly 500 workers went on strike and the union members which consist of almost 18,000 workers- scale five to scale 11 employees, across all the nine units in seven states have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the matter is not resolved.
“All public sector enterprises have given executives and workmen the same fitment and perks but HAL is denying us this benefit," Suryadev Chandrashekhar, general secretary of the committee told NewsClick. He also said that it is the moral responsibility of HAL to settle the wages of the workmen when the perks and fitments of the executives was settled in November 2017.
He said that executives had got 15% fitment or increase in basic salary and 35% perks but workmen were only being offered 10% fitment and 18% perks. “They have increased the fitment and perks of the executives by more than 10-40% and what they are offering us in the name of negotiations is cut of 50% in our perks. What kind of a settlement is this?” Suryadev added.
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The union has said that it will carry on with its relay hunger strike till July 2 and then intensify its agitation if the issue remains unresolved. “On July 3, we will do a gherao of the corporate office in Bengaluru," he said.
On the other hand, HAL has reacted sharply to the agitation calling it “unfair".
“It is regrettable that All India HAL Trade Unions’ Coordination Committee has resorted to the agitation from today and some members have spoken to a section of the media regarding their pending wage revision. Most of their contention is untenable," HAL said in a statement on Tuesday. HAL said that nine rounds of discussions were held so far and the issue can be resolved only with the cooperation of the unions “based on realistic and affordable expectations”.
HAL said that there is no justification and rationale in the demand of the unions to extend the benefits (fitment benefit and allowances) on par or more than executives, when salary revision of executives was in effect from January 1, 2017, after a stipulated 10 year period. “The revision needs to be settled keeping in view the increase derived by the officers from the 2007 scales to the 2017 scales and by the workmen from the 2007 scales to the 2012 scales and now 2012 to 2017 scales," the company said. HAL also said that other PSUs had higher pay scales for executives.
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Reacting to the statement issued by HAL, Suryadev told NewsClick, “Whatever press statement the PSU has issued is completely untrue. The facts laid out in the press statement are totally false and have only been put out to completely mislead the people. Our demands are completely justified and whatever we are claiming is one hundred per cent the truth.”