The indefinite strike of Muthoot Finance employees has entered the 58th day as the management is still not ready to concede to demands of the employees. The employees of Muthoot Finanace, under the banner of Non Banking and Private Finance Association (NBPFA)—of which the Muthoot Finance Employees Union (MFEU) is a part—had started the indefinite strike on January 2 against the illegal termination of employees.
The workers had started the strike after the illegal termination of as many as 166 employees—on December 7 last year—without even serving a notice. According to the employees, the termination was a vindictive step from the management following the 52-day-long strike which had started on August 20, 2019. Along with the termination, the management had also declared the closure of 43 branches across the state.
So far, many conciliation meetings and court sittings have been done. But, employees say that the management is adamant on their stand. At one point, the management even declared that they don’t want to engage with the union NBPFA which is affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
On February 20, during one of those sittings, the Kerala High Court had directed the management to solve the issues on a humanitarian ground and arrive at a positive conclusion before February 26.
“But on February 26, the management’s advocate placed quite inhuman decisions. One among those decisions was that the terminated employees will be transferred to the branches outside Kerala. So, our advocate said most of the terminated ones are women employees and they earn a very meagre amount. If they are being transferred, it would be difficult for them and they would resign on their own. Of course, this must be the intention of the management,” KJ Thomas of MFEU told NewsClick.
Also read: Muthoot Employees’ Strike Continues, Elamaram Kareem Urges Centre to Introduce law Governing NBFCs
“Through the advocate, the management also informed the court that they are ready to give additional compensation as decided by the court for the employees who step down on their own. Then the court asked why don’t they accommodate these employees in the existing branches?,” he said, explaining what had happened during the court sitting. Muthoot Finance has more than 600 branches across Kerala.
“To the court’s question, the management’s advocate replied that they are going for the closure of further 100 branches. Though they have decided to close the branches, they are not ready to apply the retrenchment policy. As per the retrenchment policy, the last ones to join should be the first ones to go. That means the junior most should be terminated. Then the court asked whether the management is ready for it, but their advocate has not said anything. It is clear that the management just wants to dismantle the union. Because, so far, management had terminated the union leaders and they had closed down the branches where the active members of the union work. Otherwise, they could easily follow the retrenchment rule,” Thomas added.
Of the 166 workers who had been terminated, four are the office bearers of the union. Thirty among these are working committee members of the union and rest are active members of the union which is affiliated to CITU.
“See, during the last court sitting, the management’s advocate had come with a news clipping of Malayala Manorama. A day before the court sitting, there was a report in Manorama about the shutters of one branch being welded preventing the entry to the branch. But, the incident had surfaced three weeks before and the police had even found it to be baseless. But, still the management representative came with this manipulative news,” he said.
He added, “Not only Manorama, all other leading media outlets are not ready to report the issues of employees since they don’t want to lose advertisements from Muthoot Finance which are worth crores of rupees.”
As the conciliations and court sittings have been unsuccessful so far, the next conciliation has been scheduled for March 3.
Also read: Muthoot Finance Employees’ Strike Enters 14th Day, Management Remains Vindictive