Party wants 220 contract workers to be made permanent
Soft drink giant Coca Cola has stopped production in its bottling plant at Wada, Thane, since Thursday, following a warning of an agitation against it by the MNS. The MNS has demanded permanent employment for more than 220 contract workers at the plant. However, negotiations between the management and the MNS, which has a strong presence in the workers’ union of the company, were on before the labour commissioner till late Friday evening to solve the crisis.
Although Wada is Coca Cola’s biggest plant in Maharashtra, its stoppage is unlikely to affect the supply of the product to Mumbai. “There has been a temporary stoppage of work at our bottling plant in Wada as contract labourers have refused to work citing some unreasonable demands. This stoppage is without any prior information or representation to the company’s management. The contract workers are also not allowing the permanent workmen to commence work,” a statement issued by Coca Cola stated.
However, MNS leader Gajanan Rane said, “It was the company’s decision to stop production. We did not force them. The management had promised to make the local workers permanent within a short time after they joined. But they have not keep their word even after 10 years.”
Shiv Sena affiliated Bharatiya Kamgar Sena is also active in Coca Cola. BKS general secretary Kiran Pawaskar said, “Coca Cola has state-of-the-art machinery which should be handled by skilled labourers. The workers on contract can not be made permanent as they are not skilled. MNS wants a platform to show their existence, and that is why they have put the unpractical demand.”
Captain Nikhil, an official of Coca Cola, said, “We are paying the labourers more than the minimum wages. We hope the issue will be solved soon.”