Sanmina workers have been using innovative strike strategies as they continue their strike for more than a month. They are fighting for a fair wage, against ‘compulsory rest’ of workers and suspensions and are facing increased labour hostility since their strike. The workers are holding a protest on January 2nd at Sriperumbudur where they have invited workers and leaders from several factories including Hyundai, Ford, Renault Nissan, Pricol, MRF, Rane Motors, TI Cycles, Hwa, Daimler, Venture Lighting, Hwasin, Nokia Siemens Network, Asian Paints. We invite our readers and workers to show solidarity with the striking workers, as we bring photos of their protracted struggles which has spanned reaching out to public and gheraoing the American embassy.
Even before the struggle, the workers regularly met with the public to generate awareness about their strike and also to get the working class to invest in their struggles via very small donations. Workers take hundis to other workers to get money for their striking fund.
As the conciliation meeting between the workers and management was going nowhere, the workers gheraoed Department of Industrial Safety and Health(Formerly Factory Inspectorate) on Monday, Dec 04th. The workers say that the management has been employing contract workers since they gave a strike notice. They say that using untrained workers in producing life saving equipments can pose harm to general public (Sanmina produces medical equipments for hospitals). Acting on their petition, the Factories Inspector inspected the factory yesterday, Dec 5th. The workers are awaiting the inspection order from the inspectorate.
More than 150 Sanmina workers gheraoed the Labour Department at DMS complex on the 15th day of their strike this morning. In a conciliation meeting yesterday, the management had said that their representative was going to US and only after a consultation in US, they would be able to respond to the workers demands, which include a wage increase, return of wage withheld for previous strike and reinstatement of workers in compulsory rest. This would put the date of the next conciliation meeting to 12th, which the workers only saw as a delaying tactics.
The workers put up posters asking if the Labour Department was in fact industries’ Department and asked Labour Department officials to resign if they cannot represent workers’ interests. The police refused to allow workers to enter the Labour Department office and five representatives met with Deputy Commmisioner of Labour, who initiated a conciliation meeting with management. The workers not only brought colorful posters which depicted their exploitation at the hands of the management, the apathy of the Government. The workers posted a chart asking if Labour Department was Employers’ Department on the Labour Department office building.
On December 18th, Sanmina workers gheraoed Secretariat building and were detained for a day.
On December 19th, the workers gheraoed American Embassy bringing the traffic around the area to halt. They were again detained for a day.
On December 25th, workers met with RK Nagar Constituency MLA Thinakaran to highlight their plight.
The management has increased its hostility towards the workers and have suspended 90 workers. They have refused to give any increment to the low wage for the workers and have said they will not take back 30 of the 90 workers including the 10 workers who are under compulsory review. The Deputy Commissioner of Labour who was in charge of the case has been transferred which only can add delay to the existing case.
In a time when the leaders of unions and movements seem caught up in the endless bureaucracy of getting police permission, the workers themselves are showing that where it really matters, they will rise to the challenge and lead the way. While these workers are getting support from the union AICCTU, to which they are affiliated, the actions and leadership are emerging from the workers themselves. It is no surprise that the Sanmina management has increased its hostility towards the workers and has threatened to retrench 30 workers. However, the workers are resolved in continuing their protests for their just demands and are actively canvassing for their next struggle and gathering support from fellow comrades.
(Photos Credit: Some of these photos and videos are sourced from workers)