Truck maker Ashok Leyland's sudden brakes on its production by shutting down its plants from 5 to 18 days this month has hit the contract workers hard.
Murali, a contract worker at its Ennore plant outside Chennai, which is shut for sixteen working is shattered. For September he would get just around Rs 4,000 salary against his regular salary of Rs 13,000. This amount would be enough just for his house rent. With a ten month old baby and his young wife to take care, he has moved both of them to his in-laws place so her parents would take good care of his family. "Even with my full Rs 13,000 salary I can't run my family. In this situation with just six or seven thousand I can't manage," Murali told NDTV.
At the Chennai plant alone there are around three thousand contract workers like Murali who work on "no work no wages" basis.
Not far away from the factory Suresh, a permanent worker's salary is already cut by around Rs 8,000 under the sixth day system.
The company he says is contemplating cutting some allowances and incentives too. He has two school going children to take care of. With a huge dent on his monthly budget his wife Udhayarekha has already taken some favourites off her menu to make ends meet.
Suresh says "We reduce taking our children to films or parks. We buy only one pack of milk instead of two. We have only one side dish instead of two. We've cut non vegetarian meals to once a week from twice. This month we have only eight days of work, sixteen days leave. We are scared about next month".
However workers say Ashok Leyland could compensate workers better. Jayaraman, president of the Contract Workers Association add "The company made Rs 1,983 crore profit last year. So what's the crisis tell me?. They want to keep their profits intact for themselves and their shareholders but squeeze workers".
Ashok Leyland's combined sale declined by 50 per cent in August with a total sale of 8,296 vehicles against 16,628 vehicles sold in August last year.
Hit by demonetization, GST and migration to Bharat VI emission standards from next year and the new thrust towards electric vehicles, the commercial vehicles sector has witnessed a 54 per cent dip in sales. Only 51,897 vehicles were sold in August against 84,668 same period last year. In a statement Ashok Leyland had called its action "To safeguard company's interest".
The industry wants cut in 28 per cent GST and easy loans.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman blamed it on millennials who don't buy cars. She said "The GST council will take a decision. We've considered other suggestions from auto sector".
Already more than three lakh workers in auto industry have lost jobs according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association.
With no improvement in automobile sale even three weeks after the finance minister's intervention the crisis is now hitting hard those working for auto majors. The industry wants more from the government, really fast so there the upcoming festive season could spur growth.