The management of one of the leading Non-Banking Financial Companies, Muthoot Finance, where a small section of its staff is on a strike with the support of the CPI-M backed CITU, has threatened to close down its operations in the state.
Since August 20, some employees of Muthoot Finance are on an indefinite protest, demanding that they are allowed to take part in trade union activities. This has affected the normal functioning of the company’s Kerala branches.
Muthoot Finance has 3,600 branches in the country, of which 600 branches are in Kerala, and employs over 30,000 people across the country.
There has been no business transacted in 300 Kerala branches since August 20 due to the strike.
Muthoot Finance Managing Director, George Alexander, was among those who sat on a protest outside the head office on Tuesday after their entrance to the office was blocked by people associated with the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
Talking to the media, Alexander said they are perplexed over the situation.
“Three hundred fifty-two (352) employees are working in our head office here and not a single member is taking part in the strike. We have been most considerate with our employees, we pay the salary correctly, give a quarterly bonus, incentives and all benefits,” he said.
“Ever since the trouble from the unions began two years ago, our business in Kerala has dropped from 10 per cent to a mere 4 per cent. This has happened even as our overall business has been growing year-on-year.
“This is unwarranted. There has been no police action at all. We do not know what to do if the situation persists,” said Alexander.
This is happening at a time Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is projecting the state as an investor-friendly destination. In yesteryears, the state had failed to draw the investors’ attention due to trade union-related violence.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Rajya Sabha member and former Kerala Industries Minister, Elamaram Kareem, the current CITU state general secretary, blamed the Muthoot Finance management for the fracas.
“The management refuses to accept a trade union of their employees, which is against the law. They are taking vindictive action against their employees, who joined the trade union. They demanded rights to take part in a trade union and when that was denied, they began a strike,” said Kareem.
Kerala Labour Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan is expected to call a meeting of the management and the trade union representatives in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.