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Friday, Oct 10, 2003

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Industry & Economy - Textiles

Bonus talks on in textile units

G. Gurumurthy

Coimbatore , Oct. 9

BONUS negotiations are on in the textile industry, though on a subdued note this year. The talks, which begun in the last two or three days, are being held at individual unit levels between the managements and their workmen representatives, the trade union sources here said.

Though it is said that a handful of textile units located in Coimbatore and Tirupur have already inked negotiated bonus settlement with their mill workers, most other units have just begun inviting the workmen for the bonus parleys. The current talks are happening largely in the units located in Coimbatore and Erode districts.

The trade union sources told Business Line that they expected the pace of talks to gain momentum only towards this weekend or next week when more number of textile units would have finalised the talks. There has been hardly any indication on the tenor of the bonus talks underway, especially on the percentage rate of bonus in demand or being negotiated for.

But the trade union sources say the bonus negotiation would prove a mixed bag this year yet again. Linked to last year's working results as it is, the bonus rate may vary mill-to-mill, though the major workers' unions have pitched for a bonus demand this year that seeks a minimum bonus of 15 per cent and a maximum 30 per cent.

In order to give a pep to their bonus demand, the unions have also threatened to call a strike in units which fail to initiate parleys by October17. But sources close to the unions say that the need for invoking the strike threat may not arise as by then most mills in the region would have settled the bonus.

The issue of bonus among the organised textile mills may not make much ripples this time considering the large-scale displacement of permanent workers effected in the Coimbatore region through agreed VRS package by many established textile units in the past two years.

The bonus issue is an equally subdued one for the knitwear industrial workers in the hosiery town of Tirupur. Most of the knitwear factories and their workers are informally bound by an understanding that the bonus issue would be sorted out at the unit level and the issue may not be allowed to be blown out. The Tirupur-based trade union sources said that last year the hosiery workers received bonus ranging from 8.33 per cent to 35 per cent depending on the profitability of the individual units and this trend would almost continue this year too. Tirupur workers unions expect the bonus parleys in most industrial establishments would earnestly start this weekend and be concluded and settled well ahead of Diwali.

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