It is gathered that there is a stalemate in wage agreement talks between the Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) and trade unions in the country.

CMA and the federation of major Central trade unions (INTUC, AITUC, BMS, HMS, and CITU and LPF) signed a wage settlement in early 2019 for a duration of four years. As that the previous settlement period will end this March, the talks between the association and trade unions to finalise the next wage agreement for workers have remained inconclusive.

It is heard that the talks ended in a stalemate as CMA insisted on the wage agreement for permanent workers only.

“In most of the cement companies in the south, there are a good number of permanent workers, while contract workers are lower. But in north India, most of the units have a higher number of contract workers. So even if there is an agreement, it is unlikely to be implemented since there are no permanent workers,” M Shanmugam, General Secretary, LPF (Labour Progressive Federation), told businessline.

New settlement

Though N Srinivasan of India Cements was nominated for talks, no progress was made in the wage agreement, he added.

Since negotiations regarding the wage renewal are at an impasse, Chennai-headquartered India Cements has gone ahead and signed a new four-year wage settlement with its trade unions. The agreement will benefit over 500 workmen of the company.

“For the last 30 years, I have been negotiating on behalf of the cement industry with all the Central trade unions. As reaching a consensus is taking time this time, we have now entered into the 12 (3) settlement with our unions for the benefit of employees in all our plants,” said N Srinivasan, Vice Chairman and MD of India Cements.

The four-year agreement effective from April 1, 2022, provides for a total increase of ₹5,000 per month for the workmen employed in all the 10 cement plants of the company. With other benefits, an employee stands to get a nearly ₹10,000 increase at the end of the fourth year. India Cements has also announced a new floater mediclaim policy to all the employees covered by the agreement for the annual insurance cover of ₹3 lakh per employee. The premium amount will be paid by the company. This will entail outgo of ₹1.65 crore per annum for the company.

Since 1992, Srinivasan has been spearheading the negotiations with the central unions on behalf of the cement industry and concluded seven settlements till 2018.