Fifteen days after scores of employees of the Muthoot Finance Limited began their indefinite strike against the management across various branches in Kerala, George Alexander, the Managing Director (MD) of the company stated that despite the profit earned by the company in places outside the state, the business is low in Kerala.
The employees union of Muthoot Finance, under the banner of Non-Banking and Private Finance Employees Association (NPFEA) had begun an indefinite protest against the management on August 20, regarding several issues such as a basic hike in salary, lack of proper allowances and denial of proper bonus among other issues.
One of the accusations made against the company by protesting employees was that despite earning more than Rs 2,000 crore as profit, the employees are not being given a decent salary. Admitting to the fact that the company does make an overall profit, George Alexander claimed that their business in Kerala has been suffering over the years. “We have more than 600 branches in Kerala, but of our total business, Kerala constituted only 10 percent. This came down to a meagre 4 percent over the last couple of years,” he stated.
George stated that the average business in a single branch in Kerala each day is Rs 2 crore, whereas the average business of a single branch of the company outside the state amounts to Rs 7.5 crore rupees. “If it was any other company, they would have closed their operations in the state long time back. We continue to operate here because we are a Kerala company and are emotionally attached to our state,” he added.
On Tuesday, as the employees continued to protest outside various branches for the 15th consecutive day, George as well as 300 other employees working in the head office of Muthoot Finance were made to stay outside the office in Ernakulam the entire day. “Not a single employee out of the total 350 employees in the office are protesting. Still, we were not allowed to work in this office today,” he claimed.
Accompanying George for the press meet was KR Bijumon, the Chief General Manager of the company who claimed that the company is not hesitant on providing better salaries to the employees. “Why would we have a problem in giving them their salaries? We spend Rs 40 crore for our CSR activities, we donated Rs 2 crore for the Distress relief fund post the floods. Why should we not give Rs 5 lakhs to our employees?” asked Bijumon.
Truce meeting called by Minister
With the conflict between the employees and management showing no signs of abating, state Labour Minister TP Ramakrishnan has called for a discussion between both sides on Wednesday. Speaking to Asianet News, Ramakrishnan said, “Employees allege that they are not getting their rightful due while the management claims that they have provided the employees with everything. The stand of the government at the moment is to solve the existing issue and that is why we have called for a discussion with both parties on Wednesday at 4 pm.”
Earlier in the day, there were reports that the company was planning to shut down the 300 branches which was not operating due to the protests. However, employees of the union claim that these are pressure tactics used by the management to instil fear among the non protesting employees that they will lose their jobs.