Mumbai: Bajaj Auto Ltd, maker of the Discover and Pulsar motorbikes, is bracing for another face-off with workers at its factory in Chakan near Pune.

With the union threatening to stop work from 28 April over disagreements on wages and allotment of Bajaj Auto shares at a discounted rate, the Pune-based auto maker is preparing to manufacture additional units at its Aurangabad plant in Maharashtra.

“We do not anticipate all of them will go on strike. Not all of them are aligned to the union," said Kailash Zanzari, vice-president for manufacturing at the Chakan plant.

The Bombay high court is hearing the dispute between the union and the management over wage agreement. The case will come up for hearing later this week.

The tiff is resurfacing in less than a year. A standoff that began in June last year over similar issues ended two months later when the company threatened to shift production from Chakan to other facilities.

This time, there are additions to the charter of demand. Aside from its main demands, the union wants Bajaj Auto to allocate half the sum it will spend under corporate social responsibility (CSR) for tribal, malnutrition and other issues of downtrodden classes, and the remaining on an education fund for the workers’ children.

Under a new law, companies have to allocate 2% of their annual revenue to CSR.

Rajiv Bajaj, managing director at Bajaj Auto, in a statement issued on 18 April, termed the workers’ demands as “insane".

“There hasn’t been any change in management’s stance since August last year and hence we have decided to go for work stoppage," said Dilip Pawar, working president of Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sangathan, the workers’ union at the Chakan plant. He expects about 850 union members to stop work from 28 April.

Zanzari is confident the strike will not last long this time. After a recent wage hike of 10,000 per month, the workers shouldn’t be complaining, he said. The company will not give in to the irrational demandof allotting shares at a discounted price, Zanzari said.

Bajaj employs about 2,000 contract and permanent workers at its Chakan plant, where it manufactures the Avenger, Pulsar and KTM motorcycles.

The proposed strike is unlikely to significantly affect Bajaj’s overall volume, said Surjit Singh Arora, analyst at Prabhudas Lilladher Pvt. Ltd.

Bajaj is struggling with a loss of domestic marketshare amid increasing competition as well as a slowing market. In the year to 31 March, Bajaj sold 2,099,230 units, 4% lower than in the previous fiscal year, and its marketshare dropped to 20% from 24%, according to industry lobby Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

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