two units - the tractor unit and machine tool unit. Employees of the tractor unit have not received their salaries for the last more than 26 months while those of the machine tool unit have not been paid for the last 17 months.
In April this year, the government asked employees to take VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme). HMT employees requested the government to merge HMT with other public sector undertakings (PSUs) to prevent large scale unemployment, but in vain.
Manjit Bedi, general technical manager, Tractor Business Group, HMT factory, was quoted as saying, "Although we are not getting budgetary support from the government we completed our order because of the commitment of the management and sincerity of our workmen. In June, we sent our first lot of eight tractors for 2016 to Nepal and completed our order. Our hard work made it possible for us to achieve the feat this time too."
Bedi said the factory has one of the best performance engines and is receiving orders from other countries. "In the near future, we will try our best to enhance export to other SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries like Sri Lanka and Bhutan," he said.
During the past few months, HMT employees have been struggling to revive the company, staging protests and offering suggestions to the government, including joint venture of the machine tool unit with Indian defence and railways and a joint venture with some other firm, if the government does not want direct investment.
President, HMT workers union, Mahender Singh said, "We have expertise in tractor engines in comparison with other tractor companies in the country and no one has ever made engines like us. We have suggested a few ideas to the Government of India to revive HMT factory and if the government works on any of our suggestions, 1,400 employees will not go jobless."
The PSU is in need of 'working capital. Trade union leaders suggest that the government can make it a joint venture (JV) with various agencies so that jobs of HMT employees can be saved.
At present, HMT infrastructure is worth more than Rs 10,000 crore and the government cannot afford to establish such infrastructure again. It is worthwhile to make the most of it in view of government’s Make in India projects, which proposes indigenization of manufacturing process.
HMT watch that is facing closure was once the timekeeper of the nation but has fallen in bad time.
Last year, Haryana Government had asked the Centre to transfer surplus land of the tractor-manufacturing unit's 837 acres to the state for creation of an industrial estate. Centre had asked Haryana to take over the entire land in lieu of settling dues related to voluntary retirement schemes (VRS) of its employees and other liabilities.
The PSU had manufactured successful tractors like HMT Zetor, HMT 3511 and HMT 5911 suitable for all farmers. For nearly two decades, the unit's manufacturing capacity had gone down drastically with private players capturing the tractor market, directly impacting around 2,000 employees.