On a sit-in strike inside their respective factory premises, the workers' demands include timely increments, better wages and welfare unions.

3700 Yamaha Royal Enfield Myoung Shin workers go on strike near ChennaiBharath Kumar
news Labour Strike Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 17:48

The Oragadam industrial belt near Chennai, which has units of the some of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers, is now witnessing strikes by over 3,700 workers, belonging to three different companies.

Leading automobile manufacturers such as Renault-Nissan, Daimler, Eicher Motors, Yamaha, Apollo Tyres, etc. have manufacturing plants in Oragadam. Workers of Yamaha India, Myoung Shin Automotive India Pvt Ltd and Royal Enfield are on strike and demand that their respective managements fulfil a set of requirements.

Yamaha India

Around 700 permanent employees of Yamaha India are on a sit-in strike at the Yamaha plant in Oragadam since September 20. This came after two employees were fired by the company on September 20, allegedly without providing a reason. This sparked other employees to go on strike inside the premises of the factory, demanding that the management heed to their requests.

Speaking to TNM, Bharath Kumar, one of the participants of the strike, said that one of the major demands of the employees is that the company reinstate the two employees who were terminated.

“Prakash and Rajamanikkam led our efforts to form a workers union in the company. The management apparently did not like this, and hence revoked their access cards and did not allow them to enter the factory premises on September 20. We support those two men and began a sit-in protest since that day,” he said.

Workers in Yamaha India factory in Oragadam during the strike. Image: Bharath Kumar

The participants of the strike have been attempting to form a workers union, which the company allegedly has not cooperated with.

The workers who were on strike also alleged that the company was not paying them according to the government norms.

“As per labour laws, an engineer with six years experience must at least get Rs 30,000 per month as salary. Here they pay a maximum of Rs 17,000 for a worker who has six years experience in the industry,” said Bharath.

The workers also alleged that the Sriperumbudur’s Assistant Commissioner of Labour called Yamaha’s management for talks four times since September 20, but the management did not appear for any negotiations with the workers.

“Since we are all outside the shop floor, the company is making contract workers and apprentices to do our work. There have been multiple instances of injuries since those workers are not as experienced as we are. But the company is not treating them well and are hiding these accidents from the public,” he added.

Saying that the women workers have also expressed solidarity to the cause and joined the protest, Bharath said that the strike will continue until the management decides to hold talks and fulfil their demands.

Myoung Shin Automotive India Pvt Ltd

Around 140 workers of Myoung Shin Automotive India Pvt Ltd (MSI), an automotive component maker, have also been on strike inside the factory premises for the last 20 days, demanding increment as stipulated by law.

Kannan, the district president of CITU for Kanchipuram, said that the company has not provided an increment in salaries in the last 30 months.

“The management has held many rounds of talks with the workers' representatives, but till today, no mutual decision has been arrived at. The management must at least abide by the law and give the bare minimum increment to the workers,” he said.

Royal Enfield

Meanwhile, workers in the Royal Enfield plant in Oragadam are on strike since September 24.

R Sampath, the Vice President of the Royal Enfield Employees Union, told TNM that the management first did not let around 120 trainees inside the factory without giving a reason, which then brought to the fore many other issues faced by the workers.

“We formed the employees union in April this year, and in July, we gave a charter of wages and a request to the management to give us the legally mandated bonus as per the Payment of Bonus Act. There was no response to this. Then, on August 13, we gave them a strike notice informing them in advance about the intent to protest. There was no response for that either,” he said.

Stating that the management did not turn up for consultations called by the Labour Commissioner with both parties, Sampath told that around 3,000 workers decided to go on a strike from September 24 until their issues are resolved.

On Tuesday, Royal Enfield issued a statement, stating that they hope to arrive at a mutually beneficial decision on the issues highlighted by the workers.

“At Oragadam today, a majority of associate engineers are fully engaged in performing their roles; some of them did not report for work, though they were present in the facility. We have forums that address matters related to the well being of workmen and are working to understand the issue that compelled a few workmen to refrain from reporting for work today. We are hopeful of arriving at a mutually beneficial solution,” read the statement.   

TNM reached out to Yamaha India’s management for a comment on the issue, but has not received a response. Vinoth, Yamaha India’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) informed TNM that the company would soon issue a statement on the matter.

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