Workers of NVH Auto Parts Limited were on strike for four days as on Sunday, March 17, 2013, demanding higher wages among other things. The protest began, according to workers, because NVH refused to increase wages as per their demands. According to workers the management has now offered a hike of only Rs.4,000, which will bring their monthly salary to around Rs.17,500, which the workers will not accept.
One of the workers said that the Managing Director of NVH, Korean national had agreed for a Rs.20,000 hike in wages about five months ago, but the new MD, also a Korean, wanted to renegotiate the wages. While they were protesting three workers were allegedly suspended by the management. The workers are asking for their suspension to be revoked and for better wages. The workers do not have union and have negotiated through workers committees.
Workers have not been going to work since Thursday, March 14, 2013. However, production at NVH has not been hit. According to workers from other factories are being used as strikebreakers. On Saturday, a group of contract workers, who were employed as strikebreakers were seen exiting the factory in the evening. According to workers, NVH was open on Sunday also, to make up for their slow down in production. According to workers, the company can hold about 15 days of stock. So, the company is not worried about the slow down in production.
NVH is an automobile component producer, which makes sun visors, floor mats and other parts for passenger car manufacturers such as Hyundai. The NVH factory is located in the SIPCOT Industrial Complex at Irungattukottai.
The Assistant Commissioner of Labour, Dharmaseelan, when asked the status of the wage negotiations refused to comment, saying the matter is very sensitive. The general manager of human resources of NVH, K.S Ravikumar also declined to comment on the company’s stand on the wage negotiations. However, the workers said that more than ten negotiations happened between the Workers’ Committee, the management of NVH and the assistant commissioner of labour.
Some contract workers also support the cause of the workers employed directly by NVH. Contract employees receive around Rs. 8,000, even after doing over time. Their regular shift, according to workers is 12 hours, for which they receive Rs.176 per shift. Most of the contract workers in NVH are migrants, who live in Kivallur village adjacent to the factory. Kivallur is one of the three main settlements of migrant workers employed in SIPCOT Irungattukottai live.
Contract workers also alleged that many of them have not got their provident fund numbers, even though they have been working for over three years. One worker alleged that he has four provident numbers, none of which match with his identification details.
Workers also complained that the toilet facilities were substandard in NVH, and that every part of the factory is under surveillance and this leads to harassment of workers.