Thursday, July 6, 2017

Good time: Centre to lease shut HMT unit

PROVIDING some ray of hope to hundreds of employees of Hindustan Machine Tools' (HMT) tractor manufacturing unit -at Pinjore, the Union Government has reversed its earlier decision to shut down one of the biggest public sector enterprises in the. The department of heavy industries has invited firms to come forward and take over the unit on lease.
The invitation for expression of interest (EOI) to lease the unit has been uploaded on HMT Pinjore's website. This shows a sudden shift in the Centre's stand given that the unit was shut down on October 27, 2016. This had ended its long association with the farmers of the region.
It has been reported that one basic reason for changing its...
mind was the unit still has infrastructure and a private and more efficiently-run firm may be able to make it profitable again. The EOI has also given hope to the hundreds of workers who lost their jobs after the unit was shut.
The HMT website says that the government is inviting EOI for licensing and leasing of facilities available to manufacture, assembly and test tractors. The firm that leases the unit will also be also to use the research and development infrastructure. As many as 982 employees, including workers as well as officers in the tractor unit, were forced to take voluntary retirement soon after the decision to shut down the unit was taken.
At present, only 150 employees are left as they had not applied for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). Former HMT employees said it is a good sign for people living in Pinjore and Kalka as they will have another shot at getting their jobs back. In fact, at the time of the closure, the employees had even suggested that the government should leave out the factory but their appeal had fallen on deaf ears.
The last date for submitting the EOI is July 15.
Earlier in October last year the Union Cabinet approved the closure of the HMT Unit and disbursement of VRS to all its employees. The contention was that the tractor division was incurring losses and its continuation with its insignificant market share in the sector might not be a financially viable option for HMT Limited, the Cabinet stated that the unit be closed down and focus be shifted on the machine tools unit. “In view of the deteriorating position of the company and hardships being faced by employees due to non-payment of salaries and other dues, the tractor unit be closed down and attractive Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) be given to its employees at 2007 notional pay scales,” read the order.
A budgetary support of Rs 718.72 crore was announced for the factory for payment of outstanding salaries, other employee-related dues, VRS and clearing of the tractor division’s liabilities towards banks and creditors.
Over 1,100 employees of the tractor unit had not been paid their salaries since July 2014 while statutory dues have been pending since November 2013. A central public sector enterprise, HMT tractor division was established in Haryana in 1971 to manufacture HMT tractors. However, performance of the company began to decline in the 1990s. The government highlighted that several efforts were made in the past to arrest the declining trend, but no success was achieved, following which the decision on closure was taken.

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