The Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) continued its anti-worker, anti-trade union policies by dismissing four more workers in June for participating in a strike held in April 2019.The CMRL Employees Union (CMRLEU) had given strike notice in January 2020 and the conciliation is still pending before the labour department.
The total number of workers dismissed thus has increased to eight. Fourteen more workers are under suspension and over 220 workers have been targeted by the management for participating in the strike. The CMRLEU has ridiculed the highhanded action of the management, violating the existing labour laws.
‘NO FAIR ENQUIRY’
The dismissal of four workers has come at a time when the pandemic has enforced lockdowns of different categories in the state and Chennai in particular. As a strike notice was served in January 2020, the law insists the status quo to be maintained, whereas the management has dismissed the employees.
“The workers must be enquired as per the Industrial Standing Orders Act and not as per the HR manual of the organisation. The workers were not provided reasonable opportunity in the enquiry, a case filed on the same is pending before the court as well. The CMRLmanagement is resorting to victimising tactics hiding behind the pandemic,” accused R Elangovan, vice president of the CMRLEU, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
The dismissed workers have been instructed to vacate the residential quarters allocated to them by the management. The pandemic has played to the advantage of the management, while the workers continue to suffer.
‘DEMANDS TRANSFERRED TO INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNAL’
The strike notice issued in January 2020 demanded the withdrawal of suspension of the employees, restoration of 35% allowance, promotional policy and stoppage of outsourcing of works. The major demands raised were transferred to the industrial tribunal by the labour commissioner.
“The management withdrew several labour welfare measures while it continued to victimise the workers. The joint venture organisation of Union and state government doesn't even have a promotional policy and has created a divide among the workers and officers during the revision of wages. Many of these demands have now been transferred to the industrial tribunal for detailed hearing,” added Elangovan.
The outsourcing of works has been continuously opposed by the workers, as the same compromises on the safety of the passengers. The workers have also alleged a corruption nexus between the top officials and the contractors, leading to high contract amounts and lower wages for the workers.
The CMRL management has been known for its anti-worker, anti-union policies for long. The management has earlier been accused of not cooperating with the labour department. The summoned officials did not even turn up for conciliation talks on December 18, 2019.
Elangovan said, “Three of the eight employees dismissed earlier who resigned from the union were reinstated, clearly signalling the anti-union policy of the management. The workers currently under suspension and termination are staying strong and have refused to apologise or resign from the union.”
The workers have accused the management of fake allegations against the employees who participated in the strike. The management accused the workers of sabotage during the strike, “But the accusation was missing in the charge sheets given to the employees, clearly explaining the anti worker, anti union policy of the management,” Elangovan said.
Further 14 more workers, who had taken part in the strike last year are still under suspension. The workers and union have been continuously accusing the management of targeting workers, even though the management promised to refrain from such targeting tacticsafter the strike in April 2019.
The management failed to keep its promise and continued to victimise the employees including the office bearers of the union. After the strike was called off, 18 workers were suspended, 226 were given chargesheets for participating in the strike and increment for six years was cancelled for 126 people.
Earlier in December 2018, for submitting a memorandum against the move to outsource works of permanent nature, eight employees were dismissed. The strike in April 2019 was necessitated by this action of the management. The management also refused to accept the strike notice, forcing the workers to strike work.The management promised to find amicable solution after the strike, but continues to victimise the workers.