TN: 4 Workers Dismissed by Lotte Choco Pie Factory for Forming Trade Union
Photo: Workers urge the administration to stop attacks on union members. Image credit: CITU, Tamil Nadu.
The Lotte Choco Pie factory workers have been on strike for 49 days. The strike was called on April 20 following the dismissal of four union office bearers for forming a trade union in the factory.
The union was formed in January this year to initiate negotiations on salary-hike and other benefits with the administration. The management also sent notices to 11 workers seeking an explanation.
“The arrogant Korean administration completely rejected the compromise demands placed by the CITU in the last two negotiation talks,” said Muthu Kumar, secretary of CITU, Kanchipuram, while speaking to NewsClick.
Lotte India Corporation Ltd is an international chocolate factory from South Korea. It set up a factory at Nemam near Poonamallee in Tiruvallur district in 2011.
The factory has 60 permanent employees who have been working there for 14 years to 8 years, and 57 out of them are on indefinite strike.
Speaking to NewsClick, Bharathi Kannan, a suspended worker, said, “In the initial years, we did not raise demands for salary-hike, hoping the company would provide once it establishes itself firmly. But that did not happen.”
“When we started raising our issues in 2018, a grievance redressal committee was formed. Although negotiation talks were held, nothing was fruitful. The committee was controlled by the management,” he said.
“So, to raise our concerns, we formed the union. The management soon clamped down on us. They put false charges against the workers, cooked up an incident with the help of a casual labourer, and dismissed us for the sole reason that we set up the union,” Kannan added.
The factory has over 100 casual labourers and around 60 NAPS (National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme).
A protest demonstration was held on June 3 in front of the factory by various trade unions and organisations in solidarity with the Lotte factory workers. They demanded the intervention of the Tamil Nadu government to end the illegal dismissal of the four workers.
The organisations included Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Sangam, Construction Workers’ Union, Democratic Youth Federation of India, All India Democratic Women’s Association, Auto Workers Union, and Local Government Employees Union.
They demanded that the decisions made during negotiations held in the presence of the Poonamallee District Commissioner should be fulfilled.
The Deputy Commissioner of Labour directed that no retaliatory action should be taken pending negotiations before the Deputy Commissioner of Labour.
“So far, ten rounds of talks have been held in the presence of the Labour Department, and three peace meetings were held under the leadership of the Poonamallee District Commissioner with the participation of top police officers. The Korean administration rejected all proposals of the labour department and in contempt of Indian laws, said that the union cannot be accepted,” said Muthu Kumar.
Amid this situation, the CITU has decided to intensify the protests. A protest demonstration is planned for June 13 outside the Tiruvallur District Collector's Office to urge the Collector to intervene in the matter.
NewsClick contacted Lotte India Corporation Ltd.'s head office in Kandanchavadi, Chennai, but received no response. The copy will be updated if a response is received.
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