Over 300 workers are in a sit protest at Hyundai Motors India, Sriperumbudur, against management’s decision to deny entry to two workers. They are representatives of Hyundai Motors India Employees Union. According to the workers, the company has suspended them for instigating a strike in 2012. Workers maintain that the company had agreed to submit its decision to the Joint Labour Commissioner before enforcing it, but has reneged on the commitment by taking unilateral action.
HMIEU, one of the unions in Hyundai, a major automobile manufacturer in Sriperumbudur, had given notice for wage agreement in 2012. According to the workers, the company had instead negotiated a wage agreement with UUHE, which it has officially recognized and asked workers to sign 18(1) agreement individually on the wage agreement. The HMIEU members had then led a 9 day strike which was withdrawn after a trilateral meeting with Labour Department including Labour Minister.
At that time, the company had given show cause notice to 5 workers for initiating the strike, said Comrade Sridhar, General Secretary of HMIEU, a worker who is fighting illegal retrenchment by the company. At the meeting in front of the JCL, both the union and the company agreed that the company will conduct an internal enquiry which would be submitted to the Joint Commissioner of Labour, who would then take a final decision on the case.
Out of the 5 workers, 3 workers had apologized during the course of the investigation and two of them were given 15 days suspension. This is because the company has been denying promotion and leave benefits to the workers, say the remaining two workers. The remaining workers Comrade Gowrishankar and Comrade Dinakaran were resolute in continuing even under persecution.
Ten days ago, the management is said to have orally told the workers that it will not submit its enquiry to JCL as agreed upon and would take unilateral decision on the suspension after the enquiry. They were asked to accept a notice of dismissal. The workers refused to accept the notice and told the management that both the union and the management had agreed to a process to keep industrial peace. They told the management that the action by management is tantamount to disturbing industrial peace in the factory.
The workers say that when other workers also raised the issue, the management backtracked and kept quiet for a week. According to the workers, Yesterday on March 20th, the management had again asked the workers to take a second notice of 25 days suspension, and had told them that their suspension will be enforced starting today. The workers refused to accept the notice, saying that the company was not following due process of submitting the enquiry to the JCL.
Today, when the workers went to attend work at their second shift, their access has been disabled. One of the worker who had come by bike was not even allowed into the factory. Over 300 workers have assembled with the comrades. Further update is awaited on the situation.
Workers at Hyundai have already been boycotting lunch for past one week as the management has closed the section Sales and Pre Delivery Inspection(PDI) and have reallocated 31 permanent workers from this section. This is said to be a key section of quality control and workers have been opposing the move.