New Delhi: Mirc Electronics Ltd, which makes the Onida brand of televisions and other such items, has been taken to court by its workers for locking out its plant at Wada in Maharashtra last week.
Legal tangle: Mirc Electronics chairman Gulu Mirchandani. Ashesh Shah / Mint
The Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (BKS), a Shiv Sena-led union active at Mirc’s Wada plant, has written to the labour commissioner’s office to lift the lockout, apart from filing a suit in the labour court in Thane.
The firm suspended operations on 1 January because of labour trouble arising from a deadlock over wage revision at the plant, which employs 850 workers and churns out 150,000 colour televisions a year.
The company announced a lockout on 16 January “despite a peaceful protest by the workers,” said Duttaram Krishana Jadav, unit president of the labour union at the Wada plant. “We were only demanding a hike in wages for about 500 contract and temporary workers, which is a routine process. When the management did not agree, we protested in a very disciplined manner without causing harm to either people or property at the plant.”
Albert Pinto, general secretary, BKS, said that the union has met Mirc executives several times and asked for the lockout to be lifted. “But the management was not ready, so we filed a case in the labour court and the hearing is due on 27 January,” Pinto said.
The management said the lockout was a result of worker indiscipline.
“We had some disagreement on the wage issue and the workers stopped work. We are currently having meetings with them,” Gulu Mirchandani, founder and chairman, Mirc Electronics, told Mint. “The moment they give us an undertaking that they will come back to work and remain disciplined, we will lift the lockout. This is one of the biggest plants of the company.”
Mirc does not expect any significant impact on product supplies due to the shutdown, he said. The firm also manufactures products at nine other plants and vendor-managed units.
According to Jadav, the company had agreed to increase the wages of the 350 permanent workers by Rs3,000, an increment that was to be spread over three years. However, it refused to raise wages for the 500 contract and temporary workers even by Rs1,500 for a three-year contract.
“The company also wants to cancel the 10-minute tea break taken by the workers in the morning,” Jadav said. “These things are not acceptable.”
According to industry estimates, the electronics and appliance manufacturer has a market share of about 10% in the colour television segment.