With the Muthoot Finance Employees Union's (MFEU) strike entering the 29th day, the Additional Labour commissioner on Wednesday, January 29, directed the company management to reinstate the employees who had been terminated. The meeting which is scheduled for February 6 will discuss the issue.
On January 2, Muthoot employees started the indefinite strike at all its branches across Kerala following the illegal termination of 166 workers were working with Muthoot Finance. On December 7, the management had terminated the employees without even serving a notice, along with the declaration that 43 branches would be closed down.
The direction from the Additional Labour Commissioner came during the third meeting, which was conducted in the presence of Liji J Vadakkedath, who has been appointed as a facilitator by the High Court. The company management representatives, however, said that they would decide about reinstating the terminated employees and directions of the commissioner during the February 6 meeting.
Also read: Muthoot Finance: Employees Go on Indefinite Strike over Illegal Termination
The earlier meetings were inconclusive due to the adamant nature of the management, the employees claim. The management had even openly declared a war against the union, which is affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), they claimed. Leading Malayalam dailies including Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi had also carried advertisements published by the management saying that the current events are not just a strike, but a ‘violent activity’ to stop the functioning of branches.
Though the management has been trying to the disrupt the strike in all possible ways, the employees are clear about their stand to continue the strike till the reinstatement of all the terminated workers. Not only that, referring to CITU, George Alexander, the managing director of Muthoot Group, had earlier said in a statement, “We are in a position to rid this cancer from our organisation.”
Muthoot Chairman MG George also said that the company was not willing to recognise the CITU-backed employees’ union as a valid union.
Also read: Muthoot Finance Employees’ Strike Enters 14th Day, Management Remains Vindictive
“It’s our constitutional right to unionise. Every trade union has its own politics. We, the Muthoot Finance Employees Union, have decided to align with the politics of CITU. It is because of their integrity, vigour and vitality, and because they have a history of fighting for the rights of the workers. And the management says that they would destroy the CITU-affiliated union,” Thomas KJ of MFEU had said pointing out the management’s attempts to dismantle the union.
The employees also pointed out that the management had violated the understanding that evolved during the tripartite meeting held on October 10. Though the Muthoot management had assured—following intervention from the Kerala High Court—that no disciplinary action would be taken against the employees who led the protest, the protesting employees were targeted, leading to the termination of 166 employees.