7 May, 2021Siemens workers’ Union in India is appealing for international support as the employer has been stalling negotiations on the collective agreement for more than 28 months, resulting in wage arrears for around 1,000 workers.
The collective agreements for various divisions at Kalwa Switchgear & Switchboard, Transformer, Nashik & Aurangabad expired between 31 December 2018 and September 2019.
The company has a history of delaying the signing of collective agreements; in 50 years, not a single CBA was signed on time. Delays have ranged from ten to 30 months, but the employer has always paid the agreed wage rise as arrears for the said period.
“Now the company wants to end this practice and deprive blue-collar workers of the of arrears. The union hasn’t caused the delay and we cooperated with management to ramp up capacity during Covid. In return we receive nothing but a delay from the company,”
says Siemens workers' union's general secretary Girish Ashtekar.
At the start of negotiations, management offered only a small amount of wage increase, citing a fear of collapse due to the pandemic as the reason. Later on, management expressed a wish to curtail the payment of arrears.
Girish Ashtekar says that during the pandemic, the union showed a willingness to adjust the arrears by a considerable amount. In response, and in spite of a profitable year 2019-2020, company management seems to aim to discourage the union even further.
“Together with our German affiliate IG Metall, IndustriALL fully supports the struggle of the Siemens workers’ union in India. It is not acceptable that the pandemic is used as delaying tactics by management while the union works hard at finding an amicable solution.
“I hope an agreement on the arrears is reached very soon, in order for the workers and management to concentrate together on how to overcome the on-going difficulties caused by the pandemic,”
says Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary.