About sixty former employees of Renault-Nissan factory in Oragadam gathered in Valluvar Kottam for a day long hunger strike. The workers had been trainees in Renault-Nissan and had been working under the promise that they would be converted to permanent employees. Instead, after three years of traineeship they were terminated in 2014. These workers are part of a group of five hundred trainees who were terminated by Renault-Nissan at that time. Many of the workers in this protest have travelled long distances to join the strike, as they now live in different parts of Tamil Nadu.
This event is part of an ongoing struggle by the terminated workers — they have knocked on the door of various state government officials, have organized hunger strikes earlier, and have gotten detained by the police.
CITU Kancheepuram district secretary Muthukumar and social activist Mahendran spoke in support of the protesters. Members of the ULF union in Renault-Nissan also came to express their support. The ULF union is not recognized by the company management — the management has set up its own union in the factory. New employees joining work at Renault-Nissan factory are required to join the management union when they start work.
The terminated workers in this protest are in a particularly bad position, because they are not able to find employment. While hiring, companies have a preference for freshers and workers under 25. Some of the protesting workers have worked as trainees in other factories even before joining Renault-Nissan. This makes a mockery of ‘training’ and ‘Skill India’ as after years of training, these workers are not preferred for recruitment! One worker said, he just grazes his cow in the village and takes up daily wage work to support his family. He is twenty eight years old and feels hopeless about his life.