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Bellsonica Management Calls us Marxists and Anarchists for Speaking Against Unfair Labour Practices, Allege Dismissed Workers

Bellsonica Management dismissed three contractual employees, which led to increased tension between workers and management.

Photo by Neelam Gaur

To bring attention to the ongoing tussle between the workers' union and management at Bellsonica Auto Component India, the dismissed workers held a press conference at Jantar Mantar on April 8. A day prior to this, the company had terminated the three contractual workers from their services. Additionally,  the Bellsonica management had previously dismissed three permanent workers from their services over the allegations of “hindering production”.

 A leading name in the auto sector, Bellsonica, counts Maruti Suzuki as its main client in Gurgaon. However, there have been multiple incidents of worker-management conflict in its Manesar plant since 2021. The main point of contention between the two is the chargesheet filed by the management against several workers allegedly for using fraudulent documents to secure their jobs. Most of these workers were permanent employees of the firm and have been associated with Bellsonica for the last 10-15 years.

The press conference was organised by the Bellsonica Auto Component India Employees Union and was attended by all the dismissed workers and their families. Addressing the press conference, the union’s general secretary Ajit Singh claimed all these tactics are being used for reducing the number of permanent workers. He further targeted the Haryana government and said that the Haryana government’s labour department is in collusion with the management of Bellsonica. He further said that several complaints raised by the union against the management for unfair labour practices have consistently been ignored by the labour department.

In contrast, the union has been served with show cause notice for granting membership to contract workers, which is within their constitutional right. The show cause notice further threatened to revoke the union’s registration.

“For the past few weeks, there has been a heavy police presence along with several bouncers at the factory. The bouncers and police both are creating an atmosphere of fear in the factory where no one can say anything against the illegal dismissal or unfair labour practices of the management,” alleged Singh.

According to Singh, the Bellsonica management was never pleased with having a workers’ union in the factory. Even during the union building process, the management had forcefully removed the clause from the union’s constitution that would allow the contractual workers to be a part of it. The management allegedly allowed the union’s formation only after the latter removed the clause extending the membership beyond the permanent workers. However, the actual struggle commenced when the union submitted a demand charter to the Haryana labour department, seeking parity in wages for permanent and contractual workers performing the same job. Despite the passage of over a year, this demand is yet to be addressed, indicating the department’s unwillingness to address the unfair labour practices at Bellsonica.

In his address, Singh alleged that in one of the meetings the union had held with the management and labour department’s officials, the management referred to them as Marxists and anarchists who extended their support to other workers’ unions and Jawaharlal Nehru University students. This was allegedly done to discredit the union and make a case for revoking the union’s registration.

Speaking to NewsClick, Rajkumar, a contractual worker who was dismissed on April 7, stated that he, along with two other contractual workers, joined the union. This act was ‘termed’ as an illegal act by the management, which then wrote a letter to the labour department for cancellation of the union’s registration. Rajkumar, then along with other two contractual workers, moved to the high court to fight for their right to be a part of the union. The case is pending in the high court.

As per the termination letter obtained by NewsClick, the workers were issued three show-cause notices citing serious allegations against them and their explanations were deemed unsatisfactory by the management, resulting in their dismissal.

However, Rajkumar speaking to NewsClick, alleged that the management only dismissed them as they were seen helping the union and were interested in joining it.

During the press conference, the union’s president Mohinder Kapoor was present with his wife Reena Saini. Kapoor showed the pictures of the bouncers to the media alleging that despite the complaints from workers, there were still about 40 bouncers present at the factory, creating a fearful atmosphere so that no one could raise their objection against the unfair dismissal of their colleagues.

The families of the dismissed workers who were present appeared visibly distressed, primarily due to the uncertainty surrounding their means of livelihood. Reena Saini, in a conversation with NewsClick, spoke about the financial distress that the families have been facing since the dispute took away the jobs of several workers.

“When a worker is thrown out of his job, it just doesn’t impact him. The impact of the job loss is not limited to the workers, it extends to their families and to everyone who is dependent on them,” she said. She also expressed concern about the high inflation and the impact it will have on the families of the workers.

According to Sushil Kumar, the organising secretary of the union, the company has been long involved in unfair labour practices.

“Our fight was also against these practices. These practices include the rampant and illicit use of contractual workers for labour-intensive work involving heavy machinery, which should only be done by the permanent workers as mandated by the law,” he claimed.

He further added that the labour department has been informed from time to time by the union; however, no action has been taken against the company management yet. This, he said, confirms the complicity and involvement of the Haryana labour department with Bellsonica’s management.

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