Contract worker loses fingers in Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL)

Report by R.Sridhar, General Secretary, HMIEU

hand_injury_smallAnother accident in Hyundai Motor India limited factory (HMIL) situated in Irrunkattukattai, Kanchipuram District) outskirts of Chennai. This time it was 27 years old Raja, a contract worker with Citidale (formerly UDS), who has been working in HMIL factory for past 7 years. Citidale supplies contractor workers to HMIL for housekeeping work and cleaning of machinery in all the departments like body shop, paint shop, press shop, assembly shop. HMIL has total workforce of approximately 10,000 workers, out of which only 4300 are permanent workers, and the rest are apprentices, trainees and contract workers. The factory was set up in 1996 with production commencing in March 1997.

The contract workers, who are sent to clean machinery are not given any training by HMIL or the contractors and thereby exposing them to hazards and dangers of accidents. A report by the Chief Medical officer of HMIL shows alarming rate of injuries to workers in the factory ranging from 5-7 injuries per day. A copy of the report is with the representatives of Hyundai Motor India Employees’ Union. The report further shows that out of 20 injuries recorded (for 21st, 22nd ,23rd February 2013), 10 were sustained by apprentices, 8 by contract workers and 2 by permanent workers respectively. This is a damning evidence of poor working conditions inside the factory and the dangers faced by the untrained temporary workers who are forced to work under hazardous conditions. However, till date the Inspector of Factories has not taken any action against the company for such appalling conditions of work.

On 29th of February 2016, around 10.30am Raja, a contractor worker, was asked to clean a machine in one of the lines by a junior engineer. According to Raja, the junior engineer ordered him to clean the machine while the conveyor belt was running, knowing fully well that the chances of accidents were high when the belt was running. Raja’s left hand got stuck inside the running conveyor belt, severely injuring him. Raja was taken for first-aid inside the HMIL premises and later shifted to Stanley General Hospital in Chennai for treatment. At Stanley Hospital, 90% of his middle finger and 35% of his index finger was amputated. He was surprisingly discharged the same day despite being in severe pain.

As noted above, Raja’s is not the only case, this is quite routine in HMIL.  Mr. Mani, aged around 50, another contractor worker in the factory was severely injured while cleaning a machine in the body shop on December 9, 2014 (see http://tnlabour.in/?p=2361). Despite a complaint filed by Hyundai Motor India Employees’ Union with the Inspector of Factories, no action was taken against the Hyundai Management. The Union was sent a letter from Inspector of Factories stating that they went for an inspection inside the factory and found some “irregularities” which the management had been asked to “rectify”. The letter did not give any details of the “irregularities” or what was being asked to “rectify”.

Meanwhile, all attempts by the representatives of the Hyundai Motor India Employees’ Union to meet with the injured contract worker Raja has proven to be futile.

R.Sridhar
General Secretary
HMIEU

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