For employees of Hindustan Antibiotics (HA) Ltd,Pimpri,who had long been agitating over delayed salary payment may now have reason to rejoice. The Department of Pharmaceuticals has apparently approved the second rehabilitation package of Rs 502 crore as part of the UPA governments effort to breathe life into the viable public sector undertakings.
Incidentally,the 1,100-large employees of the pharmaceutical company had,on Tuesday,gheraoed senior management officials and created much ruckus when they realised that they had received only half of their January salary. The employees,frustrated due to delayed payment of salaries for over a year and determined to get their dues,remained relentless and withdraw their agitation only after they were promised full salaries within the next two days.
According to Arun Borhade,general secretary of the HA Majdoor Sangh,the employees have not been getting their salaries on time for the past one year or so. Normally,salaries are paid on the 10th of every month. But for a year,we have not been getting salaries on time. The management has told us that since the company is going through difficult times,they have not been able to pay salaries on time, he said.
Borhade said the employees had understood the companys position and had cooperated. But some politics seem to have come in to play…somebody apparently instigated the workers to protest, he said,adding that the workers have been pacified by the management declaring that the second rehabilitation package of Rs 502 crore has been sanctioned by the Chemical and Fertiliser Ministry.
When contacted on Wednesday,HA personnel manager T Das said the Pharmaceutical Department has sanctioned this second rehabilitation package,but the issue has been circulated for inter-ministerial consultation. There are different stages of approval. The most important stage is over. It will take time before anyone actually sees the money.
Of the Rs 500 crore sanctioned,Rs 137 crore are fresh cash infusion to meet bank liabilities and to enable the company to get working capital from the banks,officials said. The second revival package will certainly help us meet the working capital need, Das said. He said the employees will get 50 per cent of their January salary in a weeks time. We are expecting some sales proceeds which will help us pay the full salaries.
The management said the first revival package of Rs 136 crore could not meet the PSUs requirement. Of the Rs 136 crore,major portion of the amount went for VRS,dues of private parties and government departments. Only Rs 5 crore was left as working capital which was just not enough, Das said.
Officials said Rs 136 crore demand was made in 1997 and amount actually came 10 years later,that is,in 2007. Not only late,but the amount hardly met our requirements, the senior officials said. HA has become sick over the years primarily due to technological obsolescence and competition from the private sector,officials said.
We had set up a bulk plant to meet the competition. But China overtook us due to its dumping policy. The bulk plant has added to our losses enormously, Das added.