| waiting for the holy grail
Calcutta, Oct. 18: Dunlop India (DIL) says it is ready to reopen the Sahagunj factory if employees agree to a 20 per cent salary-cut and a three-year pay freeze.
The overture has been made in a work-resumption proposal, the first since holding operations were stopped in August last year over risks from “resentful workmen”. The offer has been sent to the Citu and Intuc unions.
Rolling up the factory’s shutters would necessitate a possible closure of non-profitable portions such as the hose-manufacturing unit and the metal stick facility.
The management says wage arrears — piled up for 15 months now — will be cleared in six annual installments. Four of these months go back to the period before February 7, 1998, when work was suspended.
Holding operations began on March 11, 2000 before being called off on August 20, 2001. Of the 15 months for which the factory’s nearly 4,500 workers went unpaid, 11 relate to the time between last August and now.
The company is ready to offer voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in a phased manner. A part of that will cover those working in the canteen, hospital, fire-brigade and security — all of which will be disbanded. No housing facilities will be given to employees, who will have to pay for the water and electricity used by them.
Though the hospital will be closed down, medical allowance — employees had been getting Rs 1,000 under this head earlier — will be given, the proposal says.
The company says it should be free to transfer employees across departments. Since a resumption would require considerable maintenance, employees who take part in this have been offered Rs 65 per day. However, this amount will be adjusted from their arrears.
The management wants to discuss the proposal next week with Citu and Intuc unions, which want to go through a package of deals that has been offered to the union at Ambattur, Dunlop’s other plant in Tamil Nadu.
“We have received the proposal. We will discuss the matter at all levels before holding a dialogue with the management. We are currently going through the text,” Citu union vice-president Ashok Pal said here today.