Workers of the Tata Motors’ Sanand plant, who refused to take the company transport back home on Wednesday as a mark of protest, have approached the state labour department to help them negotiate their demands with the management.
A tripartite meeting between the workers, labour department officials and company representatives took place on Thursday afternoon to discuss the workers’ demands related to wage hikes.
Around 200 workers met the labour commissioner here and complained that they had not received any wage hike since 2015. Another meeting has been scheduled for March 15.
Hitesh Rabari, president of Bharatiya Kamdar Ekta Sangh, Sanand, the labour department-recognised union at the Tata plant, said, “We have been placing our demands before the management for the last one-and-a-half years. Now, we want a definitive solution. The average worker salary here is around Rs 12,000 and given the rising cost of living and the prevailing wages in the automobile industry, Rs 25,000 is what we demand.”
The workers, however, have not gone on strike and the unit was fully operational on Thursday.
A company spokesperson said, “Tata Motors works with its union as part of collective bargaining towards long-term benefits of both workmen and organisation. The demand made by the union are unreasonable. The company remains engaged in a harmonious discussion with union representatives. Instead of continuing discussion with the management, workmen have approached labour authorities for conciliation. Tata Motors thanks the Labour authorities for the intervention and will work along with them to arrive at a solution.”
Justifying their demand for salary hike, workers say while the Nano did not take off well in the Indian market, the newly launched hatchback Tiago has done well.
“The company does not have any excuse to give now. Hardly 20 Nanos get made here per day. Sanand primarily makes the Tiago, which has been received well in the market. We had accepted their argument of being in losses in the past years and have worked with low wages all this while. Now we want a hike,” Rabari said.
Around 422 workers had gone on strike at Sanand from February 22 last year, demanding the re-instatement of 28 suspended workers. The workers’ union BKSS was recognised by the labour department on March 17. The strike had finally ended on March 23 after several rounds of talks and mediation of the labour department.
There are around 250 permanent workers in the plant and around 3,000 contractual workers, Rabari said.