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Haryana: Workers Protest Against Labour Dept's Decision to Revoke Registration of Their Union at Bellsonica

According to the letter sent by the labour commissioner cum registrar, only permanent workers from the firm can join the union.

In one of its orders, the Haryana government's labour department has cancelled the registration of the Bellsonica workers' union over granting the membership to one of the 'contractual workers'.

The letter refers to section 4 of the Trade Union Act 1926 to substantiate the cancellation of the union, which says that only the workers employed by the company are eligible to get union membership. 

The conflict arose at auto manufacturing company Bellsonica's Manesar plant two years ago in 2021, when the Bellsonica Employees Union granted membership to a contractual worker named Keshav Rajput. The union provides two types of membership: an 'ordinary membership' to the company employees and an 'honorary membership' to a worker from another firm (per the union's constitution). Rajput was a worker with Bellsonica and joined in as an 'ordinary member'. 

However, the management of the firm sent a letter to the Trade Union Registrar of Haryana and requested the labour department to cancel the union's registration. Acting upon the letter, the labour commissioner cum registrar sought an explanation from the union in December 2022. The department determined the response of the union 'unsatisfactory', prompting the issuance of a formal 'show cause notice' to the union.

In response to the show cause notice, the union temporarily suspended the membership of the 'contractual workers' and submitted its response. Additionally, these workers filed the contractual workers and then approached the Punjab and Haryana high court against this decision. The matter is still pending in the court currently. 

Speaking with NewsClick, Mohinder Kapoor, former president of the Bellsonica Employees Union, who is currently on suspension, stated that the registrar's decision was 'unconstitutional'. 

"The constitution gives the individual the right to unionise. When the workload and working hours of the permanent and contractual workers are the same, why should there be any difference in the rights of the contractual workers? Who is the labour department protecting here by passing such an order?"

A protest took place in Gurgaon against this decision yesterday. The protest saw the participation of Maruti Suzuki workers across all plants, along with Bellsonica's current and former (suspended) workers. The protest took place in the form of a rally, at the end of which the workers submitted a memorandum to the district commissioner demanding the registration of the union and a firm action against the trade union registrar. 

As reported earlier, a series of protests and suspensions have occurred at the Manesar plant of the Bellsonica firm. In a press conference organised by the workers earlier, they alleged that the company has been trying to dismantle the union for a long time, and the labour department is complicit in the process.

With clients such as Maruti Suzuki, which is also in the Gurgaon industrial belt, Bellsonica is a first-tier vendor in the auto sector.

In addition to 700 permanent employees, the company employs approximately 1,600 contract workers. Additionally, the workers have been planning to challenge this decision in the high court in the coming days. 

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