HAL Employees on Hunger Strike Allege Systematic Discrimination

The employees’ union of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) recently held a hunger strike to protest the discriminatory practices of the company. The employees have asked for a revision of wages at the earliest. The employees claim that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited runs a gamut of systematic discrimination between workers and officers.

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Around 18000 HAL employees across nine units in seven states have gone on an indefinite hunger strike. The union members have threatened to aggravate and intensify their protest if their demands are not met by July 2.

“On 3 July, we will do a gherao of the corporate office in Bengaluru,” said Suryadev Chandrashekhar, general secretary of the workers’ committee. The general secretary suggests that the executives got a 15% increase in basic salary and 35% increased incentives but workmen were only being offered 10% fitment and 18% in incentives.

The union is of the view that the workers’ representation is not considered as they have been protesting since 2017 on the matter of wages. The executive wage issue was deftly resolved the same year while the workers’ demands were underwhelming.

HAL has come out with the statement deeming all the demands of the unions are unfair and rather “untenable”.

In the statement, the PSU said that nine rounds of discussions were held so far and the issue can be negotiated the cooperation of the unions “based on realistic and affordable expectations.”

HAL said that the demand of the Unions to extend the benefits (fitment benefit and allowances) on par or more than executives, lacks proper rationale and justification. When the salary revision of executives was in effect from January 1 2017, it was after a stipulated 10-year period.

The demand of the workers’ union for an extension of wages and incentives to be on par with that of the executives was unreasonable and without rationale. HAL said in a statement that the workers got two wage revisions during the same span. “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”, the PSU said.

HAL has denied rumours of inaction while the protestors have found the management hard-lining the issue of workers’ wage to a contentious scenario. The nationwide protests have brought the company to a standstill and a solution seems far from fruition.