Once ‘time keepers’ of India, now HMT employees are paid to do nothing

Iqbal Kirmani
Srinagar: Once considered ‘time keepers’ of India, ‘Hindustan Machine Tools’ Company’s employees in Srinagar unit are facing hard times. HMT has only two units in India. One of them is located in Zainakot area of Srinagar. Today a handful of employees are there in a unit that started with 1400 workforce in 1973.
At present HMT unit, Zainakot has only 34 employees and all of them are paid for doing nothing. The place once famous for hosting HMT unit is today unrecognisable. “We sit idly whole day and do nothing,” say HMT employees.
According to employees present in HMT unit Zainakot, the Company Headquarters situated in Bengaluru had send them notice that from July 2010 no salary will be paid to any of the 34 employees. But a Court order came to their rescue following which the Company order was stayed. But from September 2013 the Company pays them only Rs 7000 and that too erratically. “We only get slashed salary of Rs 7000 per month what early used to be 29000,” said Ghulam Mohammad an employee at the HMT factory.
Mohammad said, “We put our sweat and blood into this unit. But one day they serve us the notice that you will not be paid. Is this how you repay to your loyal workers.”
Ansar Ahmad Malik, Secretary, Employees Union HMT, said, “We have been left at the God’s mercy. No body listens to us.”
In a pensive mood Malik further said, “When you are at the age of 50 with children to look after, daughters to be married and you are shown the door from your job. It is frustrating.”
HMT employees told Kashmir Reader that the Company “offered us voluntary retirement option. Among those 700 employees who took voluntary retirement from 2000 to 2014 they were paid a sum between 15-20 lakhs. Many among them started their own business but unfortunately 95% of them failed.”
Malik, however, feels money is not enough to sustain a family, “This is not enough money to buy a shop leave aside to start a business venture.”
HMT employees feel it is useless to ask for its revival. “They have decided it and we have accepted it as our fate. Out of the last remaining batch of 34 people 20 have already applied for VR. What will the remaining 14 do?” said employees while sitting there.
“We have accepted it as a reality that this unit has to go. But we are simply asking for the closure benefits from the Company. Also no wage benefits have come into effect since 1992. We are asking them to implement the 2006 wage revision orders,” says Mohammad, who is also assistant secretary of the Employees Union.
On the other hand Malik feels deprived. He says they may have to take only 15-20 lakh as the Company is not budging any inch: “I plan to get my daughter married, invest in my sons education so he could have good carrier options. As for me I will leave my self in the God’s hand.”
When this Correspondent asked about Employees Union president, employees said, “He too opted for VR and since then there is no president. May be we will go for elections again and choose one among us.”
HMT Zainakot still has one lakh watches in its store. “These watches are worth crores but who cares? When there is no empathy for human suffering how could one understand the worth of the manufactured items by them?” said employees in unison.