Hero Cycles lays off 312 workers from Ludhiana plant ‘for not keeping pace with tech’
Around 80 retrenched employees with support from worker unions held a dharna on the road outside the company’s premises. Police were deployed even as the protest remained peaceful.
Bicycle manufacturing giant Hero Cycles on Friday laid off 312 workers from its Ludhiana plant — 10% of the workforce — evoking a protest. While the chairman-cum-managing director (CMD), SK Rai, said the workers were paid three months’ remuneration before the severance, the workers alleged they were not served any notice.
“These workers — from the cycle frames section — could not keep pace with the latest technology,” said Rai, adding, “We served notice and paid all emoluments; and workers duly signed resignations.”
There would be no more layoffs, said Vipin Kaushal, vice-president for human resources for the company, which has 12,000 employees. “The frames section was running in losses for over two years. Despite strenuous efforts, things could not be fixed,” he added.
Meanwhile, around 80 retrenched employees with support from worker unions held a dharna on the road outside the company’s premises. Police were deployed even as the protest remained peaceful.
“Cops here outnumber the protesters,” said Chandarshekhar, state chief of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), who joined the protest, “This is a clear sign of using power against helpless workers. Our negotiations are on with the firm’s management; and, if they do not reinstate these workers, we will take legal recourse.”
Many of the laid-off employees, said the protesters, were working for Hero for three decades.
A younger worker, Raj Kumar Dubey, 36, who worked for 14 years, said he was asked to sign resignation papers when he reached the unit. A native of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, Dubey was distraught: “You do not get a job overnight! It is difficult to get a new job especially when you are not working already, as no employer will have faith in you. Many of the workers have lost their jobs with only a few years left in their service period. It’s the biggest jolt for them, professionally and personally.”
“It seems even big companies do not have any rules and regulations — today you are a regular employee, the next day you are sacked!” said Ram Singh, 30, another laid-off worker. He lamented, “I have a nine-year-old daughter and an eight-year-old old son to take care of. Where will I go now? The company management could have given me some time so I could get some other job. They did not give any notice or even a hint that I would be laid off.”