Against the backdrop of the ongoing indefinite strike in Muthoot Finance Limited, parliamentarian Elamaram Karem on Tuesday, in Rajya Sabha, raised the issues prevailing in the non-Banking financial companies (NBFCs) across the country.
Though there are around one lakh employees in the country engaged with different NBFCs, the working conditions and wages of the employees are pathetic.
Urging the government to introduce a law governing the working conditions and salaries of the employees in NBFCs, Kareem said: “Since there is no specific order or law governing the working conditions or salaries of the employees, all these private entities have engaged employees with very less salary and without any specific hours or more than the minimum working hours. There is no minimum wages or social security and welfare scheme applicable to these poor workers employed in private NBFCs. Major portion of such employees are women and youths with good educational qualifications.”
Meanwhile, continuous strikes of the workers are going on in different parts of the country in various NBFCs. The strike of the Muthoot employees in Kerala is one among those. Though Muthoot is one of the largest and oldest NBFC in India, but there is no fixed minimum wage applicable to its employees. There was not even a standing order for the functioning of the firm, said Kareem.
Read More: Muthoot Finance: Employees Go on Indefinite Strike over Illegal Termination
Employees of the firm, under the banner of Muthoot Finance Employees Union (MFEU) affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), started an indefinite strike on January 2 at all its branches across Kerala following the illegal termination of 166 workers. These workers were terminated on December 7, 2019, along with closure of 43 branches across the state.
Though there were several rounds of meetings, the management continued their adamant stand and even declared that they won’t engage with a union associated with CITU.
“Even after the intervention of Kerala government and the Honourable High Court, the management is reluctant to fix the minimum wage. The chairman of Muthoot Finance, in a press meet, publicly said that he will not abide by any law and he will not implement minimum wages even if the prime minister says so,” Kareem pointed out.
“The condition in many other NBFCs is more or less the same. So, there is a need to introduce a central law to regulate the functioning of NBFCs and the working conditions or salaries of the employees in these firms. The working hours and minimum wages should be specified in the law so that the poor section of employees engaged with NBFCs would get their rights. I urge the government to introduce such a law,” he added.
On January 29, the additional labour commissioner had directed the company’s management to reinstate the terminated employees. But, the management is not ready to hire them back. State’s Labour Minister TP Ramakrishnan said that if the management is adamant, there will be action against them.
For the fourth negotiation meeting scheduled to be held on Thursday, the management representatives did not even turn up. They requested the labour commissioner (conciliation officer) to postpone the conciliation and the next date for the meeting is yet to be fixed.
The employees, however, have been pointing out that the management had violated the understanding that had been agreed upon during the tripartite meeting held on October 10. Though the Muthoot management had assured—following intervention from the Kerala High Court—that no disciplinary action would be taken against the employees who led the 52-day long strike that had started on August 20, 2019, the protesting employees were targeted, which led to the termination of 166 employees.
Read More: Muthoot Finance Employees’ Strike Enters 14th Day, Management Remains Vindictive