Indian consumer goods giant ITC has faced a backlash from workers union in Pune and Karnataka plants so the firm has warned some of its workers of disciplinary action and pay cuts for being absent without leave.
According to ITC, it has paid full salaries to 50,000 workers in spite of them being absent. It also added, ITC had not taken any action against the workers so far but now “absence without leave” would lead to salary cuts and other “disciplinary action”.
ITC is one of India’s top consumer goods giant with annual sales of $11 billion. It produces staples like flour, noodles, and biscuits as well as it is the country’s biggest cigarette manufacturer.
Moreover, the government has classified food production as an “essential duty” during the nationwide lockdown.
The ITC Foods Employees Union in Pune wrote to the company, pointing out that many workers were back in their villages or staying in areas still under lockdown and it is impossible for them to come to the work under such conditions.
However, ITC in its notice, said that it had taken adequate safety measures for the workers to protect them from getting infected.
“You are forcing more workers to report to duty which may put us all in danger,” the union said in its letter, which was dated April 30.
They also added at ITC’s Pune food plant, 100 out of 217 factory employees were currently reporting for work, while some of them are still stuck in their villages around 300 kilometers away.
“They are still scared, but figuring how to come (back) after the company warning”, it added further.
On Friday it was announced that the lockdown will continue until 17th May but with some relaxations. However, it may take some time for the people to get back to their jobs, who are living in far-flung areas.