Strike at Bajaj's Chakan plant enters Day Five

Last Updated: Sun, Jun 30, 2013 07:14 hrs

Production at the Chakan plant of Bajaj Auto Ltd, India’s second largest bike manufacturer, continued to remain subdued on Saturday as striking workers and the management failed to reach a solution on the deadlock.

The plant, though, continued to operate at around 25 per cent capacity to produce 700-750 units a day. The actual installed capacity of the plant stands at 4,000 units.

A section of workers has been demanding wage increments, allotment of the company’s shares at discounted rates and reinstatement of suspended workers, demands which Bajaj has refused to look into.

From a total of 1,500 permanent workers, only 250-300 have been reporting to work since Wednesday, according to company officials.

Rajiv Bajaj, managing director, said: “Attendance improved to 300 plus, yesterday production was 720 (units) against the plan of 750. Today’s plan is to make (it) 900.”

Even as the strike entered the fifth day today, Bajaj dealers have not reported any loss in supplies of Pulsar or KTM motorcycles. A dealer based in a Mumbai suburb promised ready delivery of any of the five Pulsar models bought either on cash or through finance. “We have not had any issue of supplies for either Pulsar or KTM bikes. We are accepting bookings on a day-to-day basis with ready delivery available for any model.”

To avoid disruption in production and for the safety of workers, Bajaj has made arrangements for accommodation for some workers at Chakan. Police presence outside the plant had been kept at an increased level since June 25 to avoid a security challenge.

According to sources, the situation outside and within the Chakan plant premises has been peaceful since the strike began. However, sources add more than half dozen arrests warrants had been issued against individuals who were allegedly threatening the workers who wanted to report to duty.

To make up for the loss in production at Chakan, Bajaj had started making Pulsars from its Waluj, Aurangabad, plant. Pulsar, which is a 10-year-old brand, remains the largest selling motorcycle brand in India in the premium category (150cc and above). Margins made on the Pulsar is much higher than those made on other brands like Discover or Platina.
Rajiv Bajaj in a recent interview to Business Standard said, "Our first priority is to make KTM bikes for the export market while our second priority is to make Pulsar also for the export market. Because thanks to the exchange rate at Rs 60 (per US dollar) what we make on the Pulsars in export is twice than what we make on them in the domestic market".

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