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BrahMos trade unions threaten strike from December 5

More than a decade after its formation, BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Ltd (BATL) - a fully-owned subsidiary of Indo-Russian missile JV BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd (BAPL) - continues to grapple with financial problems. Trade unions (TUs) at BATL have now threatened to strike work from December 5 unless the management announces a fair and, reportedly, long-overdue wage revision for the employees.

According to the unions, the revision is way behind schedule but the attitude of the BATL management on the issue continues to be lukewarm. The BrahMos Employees Union (AITUC), BrahMos Aerospace Staff Union (CITU) and BrahMos Staff Association (INTUC) have formally informed the management of their plans to strike work unless the revision comes into effect with the November salary, with retrospective effect from January 1, 2018.

Incidentally, this is the first time the employees are threatening a full-fledged strike at BATL since its formation in 2007 although labour issues have plagued the unit from the start. According to the employees, the wages at BrahMos units in other parts of the country were revised in January this year, but the Thiruvananthapuram unit was ignored. Following an outcry, the BATL management formed a wage revision committee and kick-started discussions. In their joint strike notice, the unions alleged the management, however, failed to adopt a ‘’constructive stand”. Reportedly, a beleaguered management finally proposed a two per cent hike, but it did not sit well with the unions.

Vice Admiral (Retd) Raman Prabhat, managing director, BATL, said the company was in dire straits financially and was in no position to meet the wage revision demands of the unions in full. ‘’We have already held several rounds of talks. Discussions are in progress,’’ he said.

With the issue snowballing, Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam visited the unit on Friday and held talks with the management and employees. “The unit is neck-deep in financial problems, yet it gets little help from either the Ministry of Defence or the DRDO. It is surviving on the works commissioned by ISRO,” Viswam told Express on Sunday.

“It should be remembered BATL was formed by taking over the state government company KELTEC for a token `1. But little has since been done for its growth,” Viswam said, adding that the matter would be taken up with the government. BATL was formed in 2007 by taking over state government-run KELTEC. But losses, labour problems and expansion glitches prompted the BAPL management to refer it to the Board for Industrial and Reconstruction in September 2014.

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