The Pricol workers in Coimbatore plant of Tamil Nadu held a huge demonstration yesterday, May 30, demanding the implementation of the Madras High Court’s order directing the management to reappoint them. A total of 294 workers were dismissed following their strike during August 2018. The dismissed workers are members of the Kovai Mavatta Pricol Thozhilar Ottrumai Sangam (KMPTOS) affiliated to the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU).
The state government has instructed the management to decide on the transfer of the employees to other states based only on the final decision of the Madras High Court. The orders were passed based on section 10(1), 10B of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 Government Orders (GO) 221, 222 dated 03/05/2019 which is considered as a rare occurrence in the state.
The government was forced to issue these orders based on the direction of the High Court on March 6, 2019, after an appeal was made by the KMPTOS. The management’s unilateral decision to terminate the workers was earlier stayed by the Madras High Court on February 15, 2019, on an appeal made by the KMPTOS.
Also read: Over 300 Pricol Workers in TN Handed Transfer Orders After 100-day Strike Ends
A total of 302 workers were transferred to Uttarakand, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh for striking work during August last year. The workers were issued the transfer orders after they returned to work after a 100-day-long strike. Of these, 294 workers refused to accept the transfer orders and were subsequently dismissed from service on February 11, 2019. The dismissal came at a time when the reconciliation talks were pending. The KMPTOS alleged that only the members of their union are victimised. They also alleged in a press statement that they were deprived of the 20% bonus and the 15.34% share in profit of the organisation.
The National President of the AICCTU, M Kumaraswami in an interview to tnlabour.in has said, “The Pricol workers are a testament to the strength of the working class. They have fought many battles to win their freedoms and with the management’s latest attack, they feel they must not lose it. Despite taking several hits, they have resisted. By doing this, they have lost almost Rs. 3 lakh in wages and other allowances.”
On a question on the union’s decision to seek order under Section 10(B), he said, “The Government can issue directions on either the management or the workers as well. The law says that the principles of natural justice need not apply here as the situation is considered urgent. In our case, we have demanded that the government issues orders to keep the transfer in abeyance and also provide an advance to the workers towards the dues not paid (education allowance, uniform allowance, etc).”
The continuous fight of KMPTOS workers has forced an ignorant state government to issue orders to protect the workers. The union has also instilled confidence in the workers to continue their fight till the final victory is achieved.
Also read: Madras High Court to the Rescue of 294 Pricol Employees