The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) held a massive demonstration in Chennai against the anti-labour policies of the companies around the city on Thursday. The demonstration was held in front of the Labour Commissioner’s Office in Teynampet. They demanded that the Labour Commissioner interfere in the cases pending in the labour court to find amicable solutions.
Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts are home to a number of multinational companies that continue to violate law of the land, pushing the workers towards hardships. The contract worker system, too, has enabled these companies, while the denial of unionising rights has further helped the exploitation of these workers.
The demonstrators accused the Labour Welfare Department of having been mute spectators on many occasions. The CITU has alleged that the workers of many organisations including Hindustan Motors, Chennai Metro Rail Corporation (CMRL), Chemplast, Dongsun, Chowel, Kanishk Gold, Foxcon, Meenakshi Mission Hospital, Asahi Glass, E-Seva centre, etc. have raised disputes against the companies. But the officials of the Labour Department allegedly continue to neglect the issues of the workers.
The state president of CITU, A Soundarrajan, said, “The government-run organisations are also violating the rules. The CMRL has rejected implementation of the law in the organisation and deny to execute the standing orders.”
The issue of payment of compensation to the workers of companies, which have been shut, has also been pending. The workers of Dongsun, Chowel, Kanishk Gold are yet to receive any compensation since the companies were closed. “We have taken up this issue with the labour commissioner and he has assured that such closures will be reported to the government and steps to get compensation will be initiated,” said Soundarrajan.
The Chemplast workers in Salem district are allegedly facing discrimination from the management for their affiliation with the trade unions. The workers affiliated to CITU are paid almost half of what is being paid to other workers. The management reportedly even sanctioned a one-time gift of Rs. 50,000 to the workers associated with other unions.
The CITU has been leading a long struggle against the ‘divide and rule’ attitude of the management and for their demand of abolishment of the contract worker system in the plant.
The labour commissioner has reportedly instructed the Labour Officer, Salem to act immediately on the prosecution notice after the leaders held talks with him following the demonstration.
The CITU also cited direction of the High Court of Madras to settle the issues of the Tamil Nadu transport workers. The workers of E-sewa across the state had launched a struggle against the non-payment of wages and absence of basic amenities in the E-sewa centres. Their issues have not been taken up by the Labour Department and has not attracted the attention of the state government, which claims to have made all facilities easily accessible to the public through the E-Sewa centres.
The CITU state leadership has urged the state government and labour department to proactively intervene in the labour disputes to settle the issues at the earliest and avoid further escalation of the problem faced by the workers.