Mumbai / Kochi: Industrial unrest at a Kerala factory of Apollo Tyres Ltd, India’s second largest tyre maker by market share, continues with the company’s management and the workers’ union failing to reach an agreement on restarting production at the unit at Perambra near Kochi.
The lockout, which enters the 10th day on Monday, is resulting in losses of about Rs5 crore a day at Apollo, a company executive said. The Kochi unit makes tyres for tractors and commercial vehicles.
S. Gopakumar, head of Apollo’s Perambra unit, said groups of workmen refused to begin work on 14 August, resorting to what he called an illegal and unjustified strike, bringing sections of the manufacturing process to a halt. The management was forced to close production two days later.
A worker’s representative said workers’ refusal to work came from a new production schedule introduced that day. “Any change in schedule cannot be implemented in a day,” said E.S. Krishnan, general secretary of the Apollo Tyres Employees Union. The lockout, he insisted, was more on account of slowing auto sales.
Sunam Sarkar, chief of corporate strategy and marketing at Apollo Tyres, dismissed the workers’ argument. “We had a 23% growth in the last quarter. In fact, it’s been our best performance since the last 15-20 quarters,” he said.
Apollo Tyres has been considering expanding capacity from 280 tonnes a day to 318 tonnes at the Perambra facility.
“We are hoping that workers will agree to increase production to the amount of increased capacity and we are able to resolve the crisis soon. All we are asking for is a proportionate increase in production on the basis of increased investment and equipment,” said Sarkar.
S. Ramnath, director of research at SSKI Securities Ltd, said if the strike continues for a week more, it could impact the firm negatively.