Look at the salaries they are giving to labour
AHMEDABAD: A labour dispute at India's largest cooking oil company Ruchi Soya's Patalganga unit in Maharashtra has disrupted palmolein oil and sunflower oil supply across Maharashtra, Gujarat and parts of Madhya Pradesh.
Sarvesh Shahra, who heads Ruchi Soya's FMCG division, acknowledged that the strike has disrupted supplies. "Since the third week of December, production at our Patalganga unit (processing 0.33 million tonnes annually) has been disrupted. The union at the plant has certain demands which we are negotiating so as to resume operations. Our units in Kandla, Nagpur, Indore and Mangalore have stepped up their supplies focusing on consumer packs from half litre to five litre to ensure regular supply and keep prices on check," he said.
The company has a refining capacity of 3.2 million tonnes annually and crushing capacity of 4.1million tonnes annually.
A union leader said delayed increase in salaries of employees has led to the disruption. "Over 600 technical workers of Ruchi Soya are demanding salaries to be increased by 6,000 a month since the past one year. With the company not relenting to our demand we have taken certain steps since the first week of December which might disrupt their operations," said Kamgar Congress Union president Babu Thomas.
Currently technical staff is getting a salary of 4,300 a month and a person with a work experience of more than 20 years is getting maximum 6,000 salary a month, he said.
"In the unit, there are only two boiler operators whereas there should be four. These workers were doing a 12-hour shift with no holiday for the past six months. We are ensuring that people work for only 8 hours, get their weekly off and don't work on holidays," he added. Thomas is also the vice president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee.
According to people close to the development, Ruchi Soya has offered to increase salary by 4,500 a month but the offer has not been accepted by the union.
Edible oil industry sources say supplies have been irregular for past one month and no deliveries have been made since January 2. National players such as Adani and Cargill and regional brands like Liberty are learnt to have stepped up supplies to fill the breach.
"The company was earlier quoting soyabean oil and sunflower oil prices but not any more. Edible oil prices are currently under check with edible oil supplies being increased by Adani, Cargill, Liberty Oil, Mewah Oil, Allana Oil, Gokul and others. We are worried that if demand for edible oil improves in the market then prices will further increase," said an edible oil manufacturer.
Brokers and traders, who had done forward contracts with the company, are worried about receiving delivery. "We enjoy good relations with our business partners and didn't anticipate the strike. As soon as the operations resume we will be honoring the contracts," said Shahra, who added that unions were a big challenge for industrial units in Maharashtra.
Both the union and the company have decided to mutually sort the issue and have not approached the police. "The issue was brought to our notice but no case has been filed and we consider it to be an internal labour problem. The issue has not led to any law and order problem in the area," said Khalapur Police Station (Raigad district), police inspector, I S Patil.