Clouds over auto hub as Hero wage talks flounder

The threat of a partial strike from Monday follows over 60 rounds of talks over the last six months that have so far not yielded any results. HMCWU has asked for a monthly wage hike of around Rs 14,000-15,000 (the monthly average salary today is Rs 46,000) in order to match the recent hikes given by Maruti Suzuki and Honda Motorcycle to its workers at nearby plants. However, the company has offered a hike of around Rs 8,500.

HMCWU has been threatening to strike for over a month now, though industry analysts said that it may be using pressure tactics in order to make the Hero management succumb to its demands. Both sides have indulged in such tactics in the hope of arriving at an early decision. In fact, the management in January had reportedly issued show-cause notices against six HMCWU office bearers threatening suspension after the workers reportedly resorted to a production slowdown at the factory causing an estimated loss of around Rs 8 crore over two days. Workers had also held a "silent protest" for several weeks starting January 4 by boycotting company-provided snacks.

Last week, trade unions such as CITU, AITUC and INTUC, apart from workers' unions from Maruti Suzuki and Honda, had also held a meeting with HMCWU outside Hero's Gurgaon plant in a show of collective strength. At the meeting, the option of a strike had been discussed, but only as a last option after other means of had been exhausted.

Sputtering out

* Workers to boycott work at Gurgaon plant on Sunday. Warn of 'serious action' like partial strike from Monday

* The Gurgaon plant makes about 8,000 scooters and motorcycles a day across three assembly lines

* Continuous labour trouble may see the auto industry moving out of the Gurgaon-Manesar belt, feel analysts

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