New Delhi: Nearly 500 employees of the public-sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) staged an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday demanding settlement over a “gross discrimination” of wages and a revision of salaries on par with other public sector undertakings.

The All India HAL Trade Union Coordination Committee members threatened to intensify action if their demands are not met by the management.

“We have not got our wages settled since 2017. We are on a relay hunger strike for an indefinite period. It is throughout the nine units across seven states,” chief convenor of all the unions Suryadevara Chandrasekhar told news agency PTI.

Claiming that the management was not coming forward for a wage settlement, Chandrasekhar said, “Their (executives) settlement happened in November 2017. Our negotiations continued but it wasn’t fruitful. Hence, the deadlock.”

The company union demanded an equal treatment between the executives and workmen with the same fitment and perks, as is the case for all public sector enterprises.

The union also stated that the HAL management is deliberately delaying wage settlement and that offers given to them are meagre, is not true, as nine rounds of discussions have already been held.

The military aeroplanes company said in a statement there was no justification and rationale in the demand of the unions to extend the benefits such as fitment benefit and allowances, on par or more than executives, when salary revision of executives was effected from January 1, 2017, after the stipulated 10-year period.

The PSU’s management believes that workers wage revision from January 1, 2017, can only be achieved with the co-operation of the unions, based on realistic and affordable expectations, the company said.

The increase in respect of officers with effect from January 1, 2017, needs to be compared with the base of January 1, 2007, the state-owned firm said.

It added that the workmen got two wage revisions of five years periodicity during the same span.

The revision needs to be settled keeping in view the increase derived by the officers from the 2007 scales to the 2017 scales and by the workmen from the 2007 scales to the 2012 scales and now 2012 to the 2017 scales, HAL said.

With PTI inputs