Greaves Cotton Ltd, manufactures of farm equipment including heavy machinery, has closed its Petrol Engine Unit at Gummudipoondi, near Chennai. Nearly 100 permanent workers have been left without job even as conciliation talks between the Management and workers union was ongoing at the office of the Assistant Labour Commissioner. Workers allege that the company had moved its production to Ranipet, TN in-order to victimize Chennai plant workers who have formed a Union.
The problem began in 2013, when the workers demanding increased wages, formed a workers union affiliated to DTUC. When the management refused to engage with the workers, they moved the labour commissioner and the conciliation procedure was set in motion in late 2013. When the company management, which initially ignored the talks, was forced to participate on the notice of the Assistant Labour commissioner, they began a long drawn strategy of delay. during this period, they also terminated 26 workers whose probation terms were to close in a month. This has been covered in our blog This while seen as an act of victimization by the workers, has also kept the total permanent worker below 100
While the Industrial Disputes Act clearly prohibits lock outs and closures during the conciliation process ( as was under process since late 2013 in this case) the management in its notice has claimed that it had followed the procedure laid out by the ID Act. The management notice also argues that the lock out has been necessitated because fall in production for the past 3 years, a time period that coincides with the formation of DTUC supported workers union at the factory.
The workers allege that the process to shift production to ranipet and cannibalize this factory had begun months before. They said that in February of this year, they found that important parts of the machinery were being removed from the factory and they stopped this. Since then they have been on night vigils to prevent a similar action. The workers allege that the production was ramped down intentionally inorder to close the factory and move it to Ranipet and other sites. They argue that there has not been loss of production due to them.
The management has offered Voluntary Retirement for the remaining permanent workers (numbering less than 100) but all the workers have refused to accept the same. They demand that the factory be reopened and production stepped up. They also want the management to complete the conciliation process, enhance their wages from the Rs 9000- Rs 16000 band to atleast Rs 25000.
find below the Management Notice