Rift between Bajaj Auto Ltd and the workers at its Waluj (Aurangabad) plant continues to grow as the number of covid-19 positive cases inch closer to 300 and about 6-8 people have succumbed to the infection thus far, three people aware of the matter told Mint late evening Saturday.
“There has been another casualty on Saturday who died of the virus infection. He worked at the Bajaj Auto plant," one of the three persons told this publication, requesting anonymity.
The workers have been requesting the management to shutdown the plant for a few weeks owing to the rapidly spreading infection at the factory. But the management has decided to continue the operations at the factory for six days a week.The company rolls out motorcycles and three-wheelers at its Waluj plant for the domestic as well as export markets.
“Bajaj Auto has increased the attendance to 50% from 1 July. Earlier, the plant was operating at 30% attendance," disclosed one of the three people mentioned above. He added that people going to work not only fear salary cuts but also contracting the infection.
The plant is understood to be running in two shifts with the first shift starting at 6:30 am and the second shift ending at 12:30 am.
While workers continue to allege that there were no social distancing measures implemented in the plant, the company, in an official statement last week, had said that it had taken all necessary steps of testing the workers, contact tracing and complete sanitizing of the plant.
The representatives and members of Centre of Indian Trade Unions or CITU had carried out agitation on July 3 in Bajaj Nagar putting forth a few demands for the workers working across factories in the region.
“We have put forth a few demands from the company management including ₹50 lakh compensation for the deceased. Small time workers are going to suffer as they are the ones who work in such risky environment," Uddhav Bhawalkar, vice president for Maharashtra, CITU told Mint on Saturday.
Meanwhile, as the operations continue at Bajaj Auto’s largest factory, the management has found that a large number of workers are reluctant to come back at work despite being healthy and getting full salary payments.
“The management has found that a large number of healthy workers are evading work despite getting full salary payments. As a result the company has now changed its attendance policy," said another person aware of the developments.
Under the amended attendance policy, the company will cut 100% salary of the employees who do not report at work for any reason other than being stuck in the containment zone or in quarantine after being instructed to report to the office or plant.
The company will also cut 50% salary of an employee if he or she is not able to report at work because of being stuck in a containment zone. It will also implement a 50% cut in all salaries and wages if the government shuts down the plant for covid-19 reasons.
Earlier on June 26, Mint broke the story that more than 200 covid positive cases were identified at Bajaj Auto’s Aurangabad plant and four workers had succumbed to the disease. The company had, in a response to the report, officially admitted 140 cases along with two casualties as of June 26.