TN: Workers of JBM Group on Indefinite Sit-in Protest Demanding Withdrawal of Vindictive Actions
The workers of JBM Group beginning their indefinite sit-in protest in front of the company.
The penalised workers of JBM Auto System Private Limited of the JBM Group at Oragadam in the outskirts of Chennai have begun an indefinite sit-in protest from November 22. 17 months ago, the management had dismissed, suspended or transferred 49 workers for resorting to strike demanding better wages under the leadership of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
Despite the labour court ruling in favour of the affected workers and the intervention of the labour department of the state government, the JBM management has adamantly refused to implement the orders to ensure the status quo (before 2019).
The workers have accused the management of demanding the transferred workers resign from CITU to get their transfer orders cancelled. The CITU has urged the company to implement the orders.
'IMPLEMENT STATUS QUO'
Around 94 permanent workers were employed in the JBM group's manufacturing unit in the SIPCOT campus located at Oragadam in the Kancheepuram district. The workers resorted to strike, demanding better wages and working conditions on February 21, 2021, after their repeated demands were not considered. The management took disciplinary action against 49 workers, who have been jobless since then.
"The workers have begun the sit-in protest from November 22 demanding the management to reinstate the suspended and dismissed workers and cancel the transfer of workers," said E Muthukumar, state secretary of the CITU, to NewsClick.
The SIPCOT campus in Oragadam, Kancheepuram district where the JBM Auto System Private Limited is located.
The workers have obtained favourable orders on suspending all vindictive actions taken by the management from the Labour Court.
"The government of Tamil Nadu, through the labour department, has issued orders under section 10B of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Even though the department issued the order twice, the management continues to defy the orders", Muthukumar added.
As per order 10B, the management was instructed to restore the status, which prevailed before the strike in February 2021. But even now, 14 workers are terminated, and 15 are under suspension, while 20 have been transferred to the plant in Delhi.
WILL STRENGTHEN STRUGGLE
Presently the affected workers have begun the protest near the company seeking the implementation of the orders since there is no standing dispute.
"To restore normalcy, we demand the management to settle the issue at the earliest. The protest will continue until a solution is arrived at," a protesting worker told NewsClick.
The families of the affected workers and workers of the company have decided to join the struggle if the management fails to suspend all the actions against the workers.
"Several struggles in the automotive industry have been won on sustained and united protest. We will ensure our victory pretty soon." the worker said.
The management has been accused of weakening the protest by offering jobs to the suspended workers with the condition of resigning from CITU.
"The management has resorted to cheap tactics to deter the unity of the workers. But, all the workers are aware of predatory offers and have decided to protest until all workers get justice," Muthukumar said.
UNDERPAID FOR YEARS
The workers were organised under the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) in 2018 and resorted to strike with a single demand for better wages on February 21, 2021.
The company terminated 59 workers and suspended and transferred 15 and 20 workers, respectively, within one week of the strike.
"We were upset with the union's attitude and decided to join CITU in September 2021. Following the struggles, the management agreed to reinstate 44 workers initially," a worker said.
The remaining 44 workers are still without a job or income since February 2021. The workers returned the settlement amount paid by the company and are demanding their jobs back.
The workers' wages have been below Rs 20,000 for the past several years.
"A worker with seven years experience in the company is being paid only Rs 15,000. How can we take care of the families?" the worker questioned.
The automobile hub in Sriperumbudur, where Oragadam is located, has seen several struggles for permanent jobs and better wages, given the special economic zone status enjoyed.
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