Kolkata, Jan 31 (IANS) As some employees of retail chain Pantaloons alleged that they were suspended for singing the national anthem, the company, here on Thursday, termed the claim "unsubstantiated and mischievous".
Some employees at the Aditya Birla Group company''s showrooms in Kolkata had posted videos in the social media claiming they were punished for playing the national anthem.
"25 of the 150 employees were suspended for playing of the national anthem and backing those against whom action was being taken. Since then, suspension letters are being slapped one after another," said an employee.
Displaying posters that read "Pantaloon employees want justice from management", they have been holding sit-in at the company''s Camac Street showroom in south Kolkata over the past six days.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rakesh Singh met the agitating employees and backed their protest.
Singh said the show-cause and suspension notice slapped on one of the employees at the Avani Mall showroom in Howrah on September 19 last year referred to "raising question about playing of music at the store on the occasion of the Independence Day."
"It has been reported against you that on 15th August 2019, between 12-30 p.m. and 1.45 p.m. you misbehaved with store manager and abused him in front of customer, raising questions about playing of music at the store on the occasion of Independence Day and also misbehaved with one customer while on duty," said the purported letter, according to Singh.
The letter, however, also mentions several other charges of indiscipline, including rowdy behaviour, using abusive/filthy languages, taking leave without intimation, usually coming late against the employee.
A. Singh, President of the Pantaloon Permanent and Contractual Employees Union, claimed the that the notice triggered the issue. "As several other staff members at various showrooms backed this employee, 24 others were suspended," Singh told IANS.
According to Singh, on his request the employees have withdrawn the agitation and given the management seven days to take ''rectification measures''.
"Our (BJP) top leaders have decided to give the management some time to rectify, so that the message doesn''t go that we are trying to browbeat businesses. I went there and requested them to give seven days to management. If the management doesn''t withdraw the punitive measures, after seven days there will be extensive protest," he said.
Rubbishing claims of employees being penalised for playing the national anthem, the company said action was taken against them on disciplinary grounds. "Pantaloons would like to deny the unsubstantiated and mischievous claim that some employees in Kolkata were suspended for playing the national anthem. These malicious insinuations are aimed to obfuscate facts," the company said.
Pantaloons, a 20-year-old brand born in Kolkata, has 1,215 employees on its rolls in West Bengal. A few days ago, some employees were served suspension notice, pending enquiry, due to gross acts of indiscipline that are being investigated through a fair and impartial process.
"Disciplinary action was taken due to a variety of reasons, ranging from acts of violence in the presence of customers, disrupting store operations, threatening female employees and abusing co-workers," said a company spokesman.