A move to dismiss 60+ contract workers for unionizing by Asian Paints Management has resulted in a series of labour struggles in the Sriperumbudur Factory, the latest of which has been the suspension of supervisor Sankar on April 15th. According to the workers, the management dismissed about 62 contract workers in February, even before their contract was over, citing termination of the contract with UDS, their contractor. The workers say that, while the management had changed the contractors in the past, the workers themselves had remained the same just moving from one contractor to another.
After a long struggle by Asian Paints permanent workers in 2013-2014, spanning over 160 days(http://tnlabour.in/?p=2114), the contract workers opted to join AICCTU General Union to protect their rights. This did not go well with the management, with the result that workers having worked for more than 8 years were unemployed overnight and new workforce were brought into replace the dismissed contract workforce. Sankar, the supervisor said that the management, however did not reduce the production targets and pressurized the workers and the supervisors to keep to the production target. When Sankar objected and asked for time to train the workers, the management has suspended Sankar and is said to be pressurizing his to resign.
Sankar who has been leading a struggle in front of the factory gate, has joined the Asian paints Workers Union, which is bridging the sharp divide between the workers and supervisors in factories. According to the union representatives, this has sparked a discussion among supervisors, with some evincing interest and the need to unionize .
Meanwhile, Asian Paints Union is gearing to launch its own struggles against the lack of management’s initiative towards collective bargaining and its continued intimidation again permanent workers. According to the union, 8 workers including 3 current former union representatives have been suspended by the management. The charges have included sabotaging of machinery, intimidation of superiors and inefficiency charges, which the workers refute as baseless charges. The union has made reinstatement of all workers including permanent workers, supervisor and the contract workers as one of its core demands. The union has given a strike notice to the management with no apparent progress in tripartite conciliation negotiations with Labour Department.