Kochi, Sep 8 (UNI) The CPI (M)-ruled Kerala's claim to be 'investor-friendly' has received a major setback from party's trade union wing CITU, which opposes the normal functioning of Rs 36,000 crore non-banking finance company, which could lead to the closure of its 600 odd branches in the state.
Sending wrong signals, the premier non-banking finance company, Muthoot Finance Ltd, which has been facing protests from CITU activists, has been forced to announce closure of 15 out of its 600 odd branches in Kerala, with effect from Wednesday last.
CITU activists have been protesting outside Muthoot Finance’s branches in Kerala for the past several weeks, demanding wage hike and recognition of the union, sources said.
Following the CITU activists' decision not to allow normal and peaceful functioning of Muthoot Finance branches, the company had said it would be forced to shut down in the coming days, as many as 300 of its 600-odd branches in the state.
The branches already closed are those, where the CITU menace was at its worst. The CITU activists have been blocking employees from entering the branch or carry out their routine duty.
The employees loyal to the management are abused in most filthy language, while some of them are being manhandled.
The employees tortured are mostly women. The company's staff strength in Kerala is over 3000.
The detractors of Muthoot Finance held the view that more than the CITU menace, the losses of the branches prompted closure.
But the management is emphatic that but for the mischief by CITU elements, these branches would never have been closed down.
Kerala's CPM Labour Minister T P Ramakrishnan has called a conciliation meeting on September 9.
The Non-Banking and Finance Employees' Association, which is on a warpath and also the top brass of the management of Muthoot Finance Ltd, have been invited for the conciliation meeting.
This is the second meeting convened by the Minister. Another meeting convened earlier was postponed, as the company management did not attend.
Muthoot Finance has threatened that it would close down its branches permanently in a phased manner, if the authorities failed to give protection for peaceful functioning of the institution.
The functioning of their corporate office in Kochi is also being disrupted by the CITU workers.
The company’s business in Kerala has nose-dived from 10 per cent to 4 per cent of the total business. The company has been facing labour trouble for the past two years.
Muthoot Finance claims to be offering one of the best pay packages in the industry. In addition to salaries, employees are given incentives. They had a pension scheme and also been offered employees’ stock option.
The branches of the Kochi-headquartered premier gold finance company already closed are those at Kathrikadavu, Panangad, Kangarappady, Ponnarimangalam - all in Ernakulam district - Ulloor and Peringamala in Thiruvananthapuram; Punalur, Kottarakkara City branch and Bharanikavu in Kollam; Thengana in Kottayam; Koluthu Palam-Kumily in Idukki; Pathiripala and Sulthanpet in Palakkad; and Kottakkal-Changuvetty and Down Hill in Malappuram.
The company decided not to release any fresh gold loans would be granted at these branches in view of the closure.
Meanwhile, arrangements are being made for closure of loans/release of the gold ornaments pledged on intimation to the respective customers individually.Muthoot Finance has given their customers three months' time to close their loan accounts and take back their mortgaged ornaments.(UNI)