TN: JK Tyres Workers Call Off Strike, HC Orders Revocation of 3 Leaders’ Suspension
A Soundarrajan, state CITU president, addressing the general body meeting of JK Tyres Workers Union on November 22.
The workers of J K Tyres manufacturing unit in Chennai returned to work on Tuesday after winning several rights. The workers ended their seven-day-long strike after the Madras High Court advised them to do so. The court also directed the management to revoke the suspension of three union leaders and hold talks with the trade unions to settle disputes on festival bonus.
The management had approached the High Court and suspended the union leaders to defeat the strike and reportedly even used local police to threaten workers, but the workers won the battle by staying firm on their week-long sit-in strike despite incessant rain and cold.
The JK Tyres Workers Union, affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said the victory was a shot in the arm of the workers struggle.
Workers in one of the nine manufacturing plants of JK Tyres began a sit-in protest strike from November 16, almost one month after the Diwali festival. They were demanding a three months basic salary of Rs 45,000 as bonus but the management offered them only Rs 29,000.
"We began the strike since the management was unwilling to concede this demand. The union brought down the demand to Rs 33,000 but the management was adamant on their offer of Rs 30,000", E Muthu Kumar, district Secretary of CITU's Kancheepuram unit told Newsclick.
The management had been denying any increase in the bonus, citing their policy across different manufacturing units. The High Court, in the ruling, asked the workers to suspend their strike and join work. The court also directed the management to find a solution on the bonus issue and report on November 28.
A general body of the union was convened on November 22 to take a decision on the court ruling. “Respecting the verdict, the workers will start work from the B-shift today”, a resolution passed in the council read.
‘REINSTATE SUSPENDED WORKERS’
The JK Tyres management suffered a setback as the court ordered them to revoke the suspension of three union leaders.
“The management had suspended three union office bearers, claiming they instigated the workers. But now the court has asked the management to revoke the suspension”, a worker told Newsclick.
Workers slept in the car parking area in the J K Tyres manufacturing unit during the strike.
This is the third strike in the company since 2017, the first being on fighting for recognition of the union. The second one was to ensure safety of workers when the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading.
“The present strike for bonus is not only for financial benefit. It is to strengthen collective bargaining”, said A Soundarrajan, CITU state president, while addressing the general body meeting.
“A worker must be in a position to fix his/her wage. The management should not dictate terms. The final settlement on wages or bonus should be arrived at after talks. Here the management is trying to impose their will, which we will not permit”, he added.
The management, during the strike, refused food and intentionally parked vehicles in the parking area where the workers stayed during the protest. But, several workers stayed till midnight to ensure that food and shelter for those in the sit-in protest.
After refusing to increase the bonus above Rs 30,000 during six rounds of talks held with the union, the management agreed to enhance the bonus in the court. “We did not approach the court, but the management did. We have ensured our rights are protected through the strike and legal battle”, Soundarrajan said.
The workers also alleged that the management used police force to threaten them and break the strike. “One of our office bearers received a threatening call from the local police station. But we were not ready to surrender, since such struggles are the only way to win our rights”, the worker said.
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