The FM is listening to auto companies, but what about workers?

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on August 29, 2019

B.LINE:Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman addressing at the Income Tax day 2019, in New Delhi., on 24.7.19 Pic : Kamal Narang

Small-scale and auto-sector workers in Pune are unhappy with lack of assurances from the Centre; fear more block closures

Small-scale industries and workers in the auto sector in the Pune belt are none too happy with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s position on the automobile slump. The workers’ unions also fear that there will be more block closures in the coming days.

When BusinessLine asked Sitharaman about measures to address the crisis in the auto sector during her visit to Pune on Tuesday, she said: “I have announced some measures for the automobile sector. I will have to get inputs from the sector to see what kind of impact the announcements that I have already made have had.”

There is some concern because she did not offer any concrete assurance to auto sector industry representatives who met her. While various delegations made presentations to the FM, she acknowledged their concerns without making any promises.

Eight lakh workers hit

Abhay Bhor, President of the Forum of Small Scale Industries Association in Pimpri Chinchwad, told BusinessLine that it is not only the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who are facing the heat of the slump. “Pimpri Chinchwad has seven to eight lakh workers who are dependent on the auto sector. There are people working in the paint, rubber, plating, electronics and electrical parts manufacturing industries. There are thousands of women working in packing, cleaning, etc. We expected the Minister to say something about these workers,” said Bhor.

Left without work

He added that a chain of vendors is now left without any work. “Companies are announcing block closures one after another saying the market is down. This has a major impact on workers in the small-scale industry,” he observed.

Dilip Pawar, President of the Vishwa Kalyan Kamgar Sanghatana, one of the major workers’ unions in Pimpri Chinchwad, said Sitharaman had not addressed any concerns raised by the auto industry and unions.

“Companies are announcing block closures. The most affected by them are contract workers who have lost their jobs and there is no record to show how many of them are fighting for survival. The government is taking steps to help the industries and managements. But nobody is talking about the workers.

“We denounce the Finance Minister’s stand as she completely ignored the workers in her discourse,” said Pawar. He emphasised that companies might take more drastic steps to trim their workforce citing the slump.

Maharashtra accounts for approximately 35.1 per cent of the country’s output of automobiles by value and the major share comes from Pimpri Chinchwad, Chakan, Bhosari and Talawade. Workers say that many companies here are going for block closures citing low demand.

Meanwhile, Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Arvind Sawant, during his recent visit here, said the Centre has taken serious cognizance of the slump in the auto sector and will take more steps to salvage the situation.

Published on August 29, 2019

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