Pricol Workers Stage Protest on 75th day of Ongoing Strike
Token strike and hunger fast by workers on 14th August
The workers from the Pricol plant, as part of their ongoing strike, staged a protest in front of the firm at Periyanaickenpalayam in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu, on Saturday as the strike entered the 75th day. More than 300 workers belonging to Kovai Mavatta Pricol Thozhilalar Sangam (KMPTS) which is affiliated to the All India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU) took part in the protest as the management continuously refuses to meet the demands of the workers.
“Tri-party meeting between the workers and the firm in front of the labour department have been conducted four times since September 14. But the management never gave a proper response,” president of the union P. Natrajan was quoted as saying in The Times of India.
The workers from the plant had started the strike on August 21 as a last resort, after the management had failed to initiate the dialogue for a wage agreement and withheld the dues while upholding the suspension of union members. The demands of the workers include the demand to stop the punishment, victimisation and denial of allowances/ dues to the workers, to conduct secret ballot elections to determine the majority union, etc.
The workers had been raising the demand of an increase in the minimum salary from Rs. 23,000 to 40,000 and a fair amount as Diwali bonus. But, at present, the company has made an uneven distribution of the bonus, the workers said. The workers who have been protesting got only Rs. 16,800 on average and others got upto Rs. 50,000 as bonus.
Reason behind the Strike
A new wage agreement was to come in effect from July this year, however, the management was not ready to hear the KMPTS and even tried to push for another union opposing the existing one. The management also came up with notices denying educational allowances, earned leave encashment and dress allowances to workers. The union pointed out that this decision meant a loss of up to Rs. 40,000 for some workers.
Following this move, the workers had gathered together and gheraoed the corporate office. Shortly, suspension orders were issued to 23 union members. After repeated efforts of meeting with the management, the union had given a strike notice on July 29 and a token strike was also planned on August 14.
On the evening of August 13, the Assistant Commissioner of Labour had asked the workers to call off the strike and assured that the issues could be sorted out through dialogues. However, there was no response from the side of management and the union was forced to go ahead with their plan.
On August 16, when the workers had reported for work after the token strike, 143 workers were locked out for participating in the strike and this led to beginning of the indefinite strike by the workers. More than 600 out of 1200 workers have taken part in the strike. The workers have said that the strike will continue until all their demands are met.
Like in Pricol, similar issues have been brewing in the industries across the state. Workers from Royal Enfield plant, Yamaha plant and MSI (Myoung Shin Automotive India Pvt. Ltd) plant have been also been raising their concerns for a while now. On September 28, workers from Pricol, Hyundai, Sanmina and Myunghwa and other factories across the state had come together in solidarity with the workers in Yamaha, MSI and Royal Enfield, wherein 40 were arrested and remanded later.
“All these workers who are fighting for their rights are planning for more joint protests in the upcoming days,” said K Soundararajan from the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). He also said that the workers will gherao the secretariate on November 12.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.