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HAL employees sit on hunger strike to push for wage revision

Employees of state-run military planemaker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd staged a relay hunger strike on Tuesday, demanding a fair revision of their wages, alleging “gross discrimination” between executives and ordinary workers in the salary raises offered by the management.


Under the banner of the All India HAL Trade Union Coordination Committee, elected representatives of the union sat on a strike, threatening to escalate the action and call for an indefinite job walkout if the pay raise offered to workmen was not higher than that given to officers.


Suryadev Chandrashekhar, general secretary of the committee, said the workmen’s wage settlement had been pending from 2017. Executives’ wages were settled in November 2017.


According to the union, executives were given a fitment benefit — or increase in basic salary — of 15% and 35% for perks. “We expect that we will get more than this,” he said. The union claimed that the management had offered only 10% in fitment and 18% in perks. “The company has a turnover of ~19,400 crore and profit of ~3,500 crore. So, it is in a very healthy position, but the management is not budging,” he said.


Chandrashekhar said the unions had held meetings with the chairman and managing director on June 9 and 10, but the talks hadn’t resulted in an agreement . “We are willing to take this up to any level of confrontation, even going on a strike or an indefinite strike. It is an injustice to the 18,000-strong workforce of HAL,” he said, adding that similar protests were being held in the nine units of the company across seven states. The strike follows the Lok Sabha polls in which issues surrounding HAL had become a part of the political slugfest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.


Congress president Rahul Gandhi had even held a meeting with HAL employees’ unions in the city in October last year, and had criticised the Centre for changing the terms of the Rafale aircraft deal to exclude HAL.


Defence minister Rajnath Singh has said HAL had a healthy order book that includes orders to manufacture the Su30 MKI, light combat aircraft Tejas, Dornier, advanced light helicopter Chetak, and Cheetal helicopters, among others.


The management of HAL, in a statement, said most of the union’s claims were “untenable”. “The claim... that HAL management is deliberately delaying wage settlement and that offers given to them are meagre, is not true, as nine rounds of discussions have already been held.”


HAL said a revision could only be achieved based on “realistic and affordable expectations”. Primarily, the company said, there was no rationale in the argument that the benefits should be more than what executives had received, as their salaries were revised only after a 10-year period. “On the other hand, workmen got two wage revisions of five years periodicity during the same span,” it said.


“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 the 2017 scales,” HAL said.

Source: ht