Bajaj Auto's two-wheeler plant in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, was hit by a workers' strike on Monday, bringing production down by over 50 per cent for the day. The bone of contention was a dispute that began a few days back over wage increases for the year, according to sources close to the development.

Five workers had been initially asked to leave by the management, leading to a ‘tool-down' protest by the rest of the workers since morning, sources added. However, these workers were re-instated around 2 p.m..

While almost no work reportedly happened in the first shift (ending 4 p.m.), workers also resorted to a slowdown for the second shift.

Hike promised

“Workers had asked for a pay increase of Rs 8,000 a month, but the company only agreed to a Rs 1,500 hike. They were complaining because, last year, when they were given a Rs 2,000 increase, they were promised a hike of at least Rs 5,000 this year,” the source said.

He added, “Two days back there was a discussion with the company. But this morning, they called in the police fearing a strike after asking the five workers to go.”

A Bajaj Auto official, however, denied the reports. “We had some issues with minor disturbance to production for about a day. This has been sorted out. Normal production has been resumed,” he replied to e-mailed questions.

The Pantnagar plant reportedly employs around 1,200 workers and makes about 4,000 units a day of around six variants of the Discover and Platina motor bikes.

Bajaj Auto has two more plants — at Chakan (near Pune) and Waluj, Aurangabad. The company is increasing production of its two- and three-wheelers by 26 per cent to 6.3 million units by next year, reports said.

Precedents in Sector

Most recently, component suppliers to Hero MotoCorp's plant at nearby Haridwar faced a similar situation.

In early April, about 1,200 employees of Rockman Industries and Satyam Auto went on strike demanding higher wages.

In the auto sector, the Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt has seen several such instances of worker agitations — the most recent being at Maruti Suzuki's Manesar plant.