Workers of Vantec Logistics India Private Limited, located in Sriperumpudhur – the automobile hub of Tamil Nadu – will take part in a sit-in protest from August 27, 2021, seeking re-employment of laid off workers.
The company had laid off 49 workers in February 2021 after eight rounds of talks on an annual wage hike for the year 2019 had failed. The workers have been fighting since then, seeking justice for their brethren who had been laid off for seeking their rights.
Though the company agreed to re-employ half the workers following reconciliation talks held in March this year, only four workers have been reappointed so far.
The workers and the trade union have accused the company of refraining from attending the reconciliation talks, the last of which was held on August 18, 2021.
‘SIT-IN PROTEST WITH FAMILY’
The workers have now decided to intensify their struggle after the company showed no signs of relenting to the demands of the workers. “The workers along with their family members will begin the indefinite sit-in protest from August 27 since the management has been refusing to attend the reconciliation talks and reinstate the workers,” said E. Muthu Kumar, Kancheepuram district secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU).
The workers have held several rounds of protests, including demonstrations and submission of petitions to the district collector, against the sudden lay offs.
“The management has not participated in talks held by the deputy commissioner of labour (DCL) in July and August. The company has been following an anti-workers policy and has also refused to implement its own decision to reinstate the workers in a phased manner,” claimed Muthu Kumar.
‘TRADE UNION MEMBERS LAID OFF’
The workers were demanding a wage hike for the financial year 2019-20. The management cited the COVID-19 pandemic and delayed talks for a year, laying off 49 permanent workers on February 13, 2021.
The workers immediately held protests in front of the company for 12 days straight following the lay offs.
“Permanent workers were laid off after a deadlock persisted on wage revision talks. There were no reasons for the company to lay off the workers. It was done more to silence the organised workers and undermine their collective bargaining power," Muthu Kumar added.
The workers have alleged that the company is trying to pay a paltry sum as settlement and continue work with contract workers only. “The company earlier had 70 permanent workers and around 100 temporary workers. They have now reduced the number of permanent workers by laying them off. There will be no job security in the automobile industry if such things continue to happen. The state government has to intervene in workers' issues in different industries across the state,” a laid off worker, who wished to remain anonymous fearing reprisal, said.
All the laid off workers were members of the trade union and were reiterating their demands on wage revision for 2019-20.
“The management did not agree for a wage revision, forcing the workers to submit their demands to the organisation through their trade union. This is the only reason for the company to lay off the workers,” Muthu Kumar said.
The workers in Tamil Nadu continue to face abrupt termination and lay offs from multinational companies. The workers are waiting for the new Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government to intervene in workers' issues.
"CITU demands that Vantec reemploy the laid off workers, pay them during their lay off period and ensure the wage revision talks are held as per the existing rules," said Muthu Kumar.