The employees’ union of gold financing company, Muthoot Finance, has started an indefinite strike demanding a basic salary hike. The employees are protesting against the management for now giving them proper allowances or bonus.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time such a protest has taken place. In 2016 too the employees had gone on a 17-day strike when the management had suspended 50 of its employees for forming the employees’ union. Following the protest, the concerned staff members had been taken back, and then transferred to other locations outside Kerala. This time again, the strike has already crossed over 15 days with the active participation of over 650 employees of the Company from across the State.
It is reported that some employees who have worked with the Company for over two decades are still only about Rs 16000 salary. This, despite the Company having grown from 120 branches in 1997, to over 5000 branches today. With Muthoot Finance having recorded an 11 per cent increase in net profit year-on-year at Rs 1972 crore, in the last quarter of 2018-19; and its total income increasing by nine per cent, to Rs 6881 crore; and the gold loan outstanding touching Rs 33585 crore, it is natural for the employees to feel deprived of increments which they rightfully deserve.
The salary of a clerk at the Company is reported to be only Rs 7500 at the time of joining, and goes up to only about Rs 10,000 in a decade’s time. And on top of that the staff is denied a proper bonus.
The Company used to offer stock options to employees (ESOP) on completing a specific tenure. But the members of the employees’ union were deprived of these options because the management did not approve of the union.
The protesting employees were warned by the management that if the protest is not called off, the non-operating branches would be closed and the concerned employees would be laid off. Therefore, now, in addition to their other grievances, the employees are also scared of being rendered jobless.
The Company claims that Kerala accounts for merely 4.57 per cent of its global business, but despite the poor business, the Company has been keeping its branches operational in the State. It is clearly implying that it will not think twice before closing down the non-operating branches if the strike continues.
Most of the employees in Muthoot Finance are women, and over 300 branches have been forcefully closed by union activities, who are said to have political affiliations.