The employees of Manappuram Finance on Wednesday launched a relay dharna under the banner of Manappuram Finance Employees Union (MFEU) against the ‘anti-worker’ policies of the management.
The employees sitting in front of the head office at Valappad in Thrissur district of Kerala are demanding reinstatement of dismissed employees, withdrawal of unfair transfers, regulation on working hours, immediate implementation of pay hike, withdrawal of anti-labor circulars, and a stop to making employees overwork among others. The MFEU comes under the Non-Banking & Private Finance Employees' Association which is affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) employees, such as those of Manappuram Finance, are one of the most exploited groups of workers in Kerala, according to the protesters. “The employees get meagre salaries which are far less than stipulated minimum wages. They are denied other social security benefits and also, the working conditions are pathetic,” CC Ratheesh, general secretary of Non-Banking and Private Finance Employees Association (NPFEA), told NewsClick during the preparations for protests.
Although the Labour Department had conducted four conciliation meetings so far, no one from the management’s side had turned up, said the protesting employees. The negligence shown by the management forced them to protest, they said.
Manappuram is one of the leading NBFCs across the country with its head office in Kerala. Manappuram Finance made a profit of Rs 1,300 crore during last year. Along with Manappuram, Muthoot Finance has also been witnessing protests by employees since past few months.
“Both are not ready to give minimum wages. They exploit employees and they don’t want the employees to stay with the organisation for a long period. It’s simply because, if the employees stay for long, the management has to give them benefits. Also, they fear that the employees would form unions and thus, the unions would demand better wages and working conditions. So, the management does not want the employees to stay longer,” said Ratheesh.
“In Manappuram, they don’t allow the employees to rejoin once they have gone on maternity leave. They say that after the maternity leave, you don’t have to come back. The management has a similar attitude in case of ESIC leaves as well,” he added.
The Muthoot Finance Employees Union has, however, given a strike call for three days starting November 23. The strike will be against the alleged illegal termination of 164 employees.
On December 7 last year, Muthoot management had served termination letters to 164 employees. Along with this, the management also informed that 43 branches would be closed down. The allegedly illegal and unilateral termination letter had been given to the union leaders and employees who had participated in a 52-day-long strike since August 20, 2019. Though the management had agreed to the demands of the employees back then, according to the union, they were targeted in the coming days.
Following the termination of 164 employees, the union and employees had started an indefinite strike from January 2 this year. But in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the union had called off the strike on March 26 following an order by the state’s Labour Department. Now, Muthoot employees are also resuming their strike as the management is not ready to meet the demands of the employees.
Read More: No Minimum Wage, No Maternity Leave: How NBFCs in Kerala are Exploiting Employees