Factory Workers go on Hunger Fast Demanding Security of Work

citu_hunger_strikeMarch 16th, Chennai
Workers from several factories of the Maraimalai Nagar industrial belt around Chennai conducted a hunger strike in Chepauk on 16 March to bring the government’s attention to their issues. Workers from Texcel International, JBM Auto, Comstar, Magickwoods and SPEL semiconductor participated in the action. The workers protested anti-worker practises of factory managements and the management’s retributive actions towards workers participating in union activities. The problems went as far as managements not even paying wages to their workers, as in the case of SPEL.
The protest, organized by CITU, was intended to urge the government to take action against these malpractices.


Speakers at the event included Tamil Nadu state general secretary K. Seshadri, assistant general secretary V. Kumar, CITU state leader A Sounderarajan, CITU Kancheepuram district leader S. Kannan, CITU Kanchipuram district secretary E. Muthukumar and union leader D. Natarajan.

JBM Auto Systems (which is under Ford India) has 53 permanent employees among a total of more than two thousand employees. The company plans to start a plant in Gujarat and is putting pressure on its permanent employees to move to Gujarat. JBM Auto Systems workers have the following demands:
1. Stop the company from moving production to new location.
2. Provide permanent employment to all the workers who have been in employment for more than 3 years.
3. Implement the order by Factory Inspector and Health Sub Director to cancel use of contract workers from independent contractors in core production and provide permanent employment for all workers.
4. Pay the pending gratuity arrears for 2014 and 2015.

The company COMSTAR is trying to force a VRS scheme on its workers. Workers who refused to take VRS were given ‘deputed’ to work in SST, another branch of the company. The location of the new worksite was chosen to be far away from where the workers lived. And worse, there was no actual work to be done. Workers just had to sit in a room of size 10 feet by 10 feet, with a surveillance camera attached. They were intimidated by thugs and
harassed by the threat of dismissal on flimsy grounds – like not wearing the uniform, sitting with shoes off or for the shirt not being tucked into the pants! COMSTAR workers have the following demands:
1. Stop intimidation of workers who have been shunted from Comstar to SST using rowdies.
2. Bring the workers in SST back to Comstar employment.
3. Do not delay wage negotiation because SST workers are unwilling to take VRS.
4. Implement leave policy as per Company Standing orders.
5. Use secret ballots to identify workers representatives at the shopfloor and implement collective wage bargaining.
6. Pay back the deductions from salaries which are illegal.

SPEL semiconductor has not paid its workers wages for the months of January and February. Their workers have the following demands:
1. Factory inspectorate should take action against the company for non-payment of wages.
2. Demand that the company drop its anti union attitude and ask the company to negotiate wage agreement with the union.
3. Take action against SPEL management for violating industrial disputes act.
4. Conduct elections in SPEL Workers Savings and Loan Cooperative and take action against management for not sanctioning loans to union members.
5. Reinstate workers whose employment has been terminated for unionizing activities.
6. Take action against termination of employees with more than 4 years of experience by calling them as trainees.
The workers in SPEL had gone on a strike in April 2015 that lasted for more than 50 days. The reasons for the strike were : very meagre wage increments in the last 6 years and termination of 18 workers who had been working in the factory for more than 4 years.

Magickwoods workers demands:
1. Reinstate employment for all those workers whose employments were terminated for unionizing and under various other pretexts.
2. Government should take action against the company for exploiting workers using 18(1) agreement.
3. Ensure speedy justice on the case against minimum wage on the company and ensure compensation of workers.
4. All contract workers should be made permanent.

Texcel Internatioal workers demands:
1. Pay the bonus earned by the workers for the years 2014,2015.
2. Take action to discuss wage increase for the employees.
3. Implement the order by Factory Inspector and Health Sub Director to cancel use of contract workers from independent contractors in core production and provide permanent employment for all workers.

The speakers of the meeting called out the shameless of the lowly tactics of company managements, and criticized the complete ineffectiveness of the Tamil government in solving workers’ problems. The workers movement will continue in the coming weeks through protest actions in Chengalpattu and Gooduvanchery.

The workers demands in Tamil can be seen below.
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