Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Will good time return for HMT Ranibagh staff?

GIVING some ray of hope to the beleaguered staff of once time-keeper of the nation, Uttarakhand High Court recently stayed the Central government's order of closure of the Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) factory in Ranibagh near Haldwani.
The unit had earlier been ordered to be closed through a direction issued on November 17 by the Union ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises.
Hearing a petition filed by the HMT workers' union opposing the closure, the court observed that the closure order was "unfair to the factory's employees and has...
been passed by the Union government without proper adjudication of the disputes raised by the employees and also without taking into consideration the fact that Uttarakhand is in need of industries."
In the petition filed early, Mukesh Tiwari, secretary of the workers' union, had claimed that hundreds of workers were "feeling aggrieved due to the arbitrary and illegal order which had been passed without resolving the disputes pertaining to wage revision of workers and their length of service," reports a national daily.
After the court's decision last week, Tiwari told the daily that they are happy that the court understood their issues and stayed the closure of our factory. The news has brought new hope for workers here.
The central government in January this year had decided to close three non-viable units of HMT which included the Ranibagh factory that makes watches, a product that had once become a household name in the country.
The decision to shut down HMT Watches, HMT Chinar Watches and HMT Bearings was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) was to be offered to the employees as per 2007 pay scales and an amount of Rs 427.48 crore was also sanctioned.
However, over 500 employees of the factory were on protest since February 16 demanding fulfillment of a nine-point agenda which included converting the factory into an ordinance factory unit. More than 500 machines had been recently procured which they argued could be utilised if the factory was converted into an ordinance set-up and also help in safeguarding their jobs.

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