An indefinite strike by about 20,000 employees of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for wage revision on Monday grounded the operations of the state-run defence PSU across the country, a union official said.
"The response to our strike call has been overwhelming with all the employees abstaining from work in the nine production locations across the country," HAL trade union General Secretary S. Chandrasekhar told IANS here.
The wage revision is due since January 1, 2017, as the previous two revisions were in 2012 and 2007 for 5 years, respectively, he said.
A company official, however, claimed that majority of the employees reported to work at the Korwa avionics division in Uttar Pradesh.
The 55-year-old aerospace major has six production complexes in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Koraput in Odisha, Korwa, Lucknow and Nashik and three research and development (R&D) centres across the country.
Terming the strike illegal, the company claimed that the employees were offered the best package revision.
"The trade unions have gone on illegal and indefinite strike even as conciliatory proceedings are on and against the advice of the labour authorities who want them (unions) to find solution without resorting to agitational means," said the company in a statement.
Asserting that the unions' demand for higher or similar fitment and allowances as in the case of executives had no rationale, the company said the executives got a wage hike after 10 years unlike the employees who were given wage revision for every 5 years in 2012 and 2007.
"The revision needs to be settled keeping in view the increase derived by the executives from 2007 to 2017 scales and by the employees from 2007 to 2012 scales and from 2012 to 2017 scales," it said.
Chandrasekhar, however, said that the management's refusal to consider their demands has forced the employees to strike work at all the 9 locations.
To defuse the situation, the company offered to enhance allowances under cafeteria system at 22 per cent for workmen in scale 1 to 10-20 per cent for workmen in special scale as against the uniform rate of 19 per cent offered earlier.
"We apprised the unions of the ill-effects of resorting to strike, jeopardising the interest of the employees and the organization," said the company in an earlier statement.
The management also offered to revised rate of fitment benefit at 11 per cent.