The workers of Asahi India Glass Limited near Chennai are fighting against the injustices meted out to them by the management. The demands include reinstating 28 dismissed workers, employing contract workers as permanent workers, revoking suspension of 6 workers, withdrawal of show cause notices to hundreds of striking workers and recognition of the workers’ union. The spirited struggle had started on the March 25, while the management continues to intimidate the workers to withdraw the strike. The Centre of Indian trade Unions (CITU) affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is leading the struggle.
Violation of Rules by the Management
There are around 250 permanent workers while the number of contract workers amount to 1,200. Most of these 1,200 workers have been employed since the company was founded in the year 2004. The management has bypassed all rules to ensure that the contract workers are not made permanent. The management has also employed several workers for loading and unloading jobs but are they used in manufacturing work, again violating the rules.
The government and the labour department are turning a blind eye on these violations and are indirectly helping the management in exploiting the workers.
Also Read: TN Automotive Workers’ Protests Continue, Asahi Workers on Strike Against Unlawful Suspension
Punitive Action for Forming Union
The workers were continuously fighting against the management’s high-handedness and started aunion to represent their demands ranging from making contract labours permanent and wage revision. The management was quick to dismiss 28 employees in July 2017 as soon as the union was formed and to the dismay of the workers, the union did not chart out any actions against the move of the management.
Inspired by the successful strike of their counterparts in Yamaha, the workers sought help from the CITU and associated with them. Again, the management retorted by issuing show cause notices and suspensions. The workers were forced to strike work as the reconciliation talks failed to produce any results.
CITU to Take Forward the Struggle
The Kancheepuram District Secretary of the CITU, S Kannan told NewsClick, “The companies in the automobile hub of India have been violating all the laws and exploiting the workers beyond limits. CITU has been involved in a number of struggles and won most of them. But even now only 20-30 companies have agreed to sign agreements for wage revision and other demands with the workers’ unions. Hundreds of companies are not yet ready to recognise the workers’ union and Asahi is one among them.”
He also said, “The companies are exploiting the workers and making huge profits. They are following revenge tactics against the workers even for joining unions. The demands of the Asahi workers include the recognition of union and withdrawal of all intimidation steps taken by the management. The strike has crossed 50 days and workers are standing strong in spite of the threats of the management.”
Also Read: Yamaha Workers’ Strike in Kanchipuram Plant Enters 9th Day
Governments Remain Mute Spectators
The struggles in the automobile industry have been happening close to the state capital while the state government remains a mute spectator. The apathy shown by both the central and state governments have created a sense of insecurity among the working class. The workers are denied permanent jobs and are underpaid. The governments in the name of doing easy business continue to leave the working class in a lurch by compromising on the rights of the workers.