The Kanchipuram police, on Tuesday, detained around 2,500 workers who took out a rally towards the office of the Kanchipuram District Collector. The workers from three companies -- Yamaha India, Royal Enfield and Myoung Shin India Automotive (MSI) -- have been on a sit-down strike since September, pressing for various demands to the management of their respective companies.
On Tuesday, around 1,500 workers from Royal Enfield, 800 from Yamaha India and 200 from MSI took to the streets to draw attention to the inaction by the companies. The workers of Yamaha India demanded that two of their colleagues, who were fired for their efforts to form a workers union, be reinstated. Workers of Royal Enfield and MSI, on the other hand, pressed for better wages as promised by the company and the state government.
The protest rally on Tuesday was organised by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the Royal Enfield Employees Union.
The workers from all three companies have been on strike for around a month now. While the Yamaha India strike is on day 33, Royal Enfield is on day 29 and MSI is on day 48.
According to R Sampath, the vice president of the Royal Enfield Employees Union, the rally was to press the companies into implementing the orders it had received from the labour department of Tamil Nadu.
“While Royal Enfield received orders from Labour Department on September 27 to revert to normalcy and allow its workers who sat on strike to resume work, Yamaha India was ordered to reinstate the two workers it had fired. This order came on October 3. It has been 20 days now and the company has still not done that,” he said.
He also said that the workers wanted to bring this non-compliance to the notice of the district collector and hence decided to walk the entire distance from Oragadam.
“But before we even walked 200 metres from the start point, the police picked us up and took us away,” he added. The protestors have been detained in four marriage halls and a school near Vallakkottai in Kanchipuram district.
Kannan, the District President of CITU, Kanchipuram, told TNM that they had applied for permission to take out a rally to the Kanchipuram Collectorate five days ago, but then the police denied them permission and informed them about the denial on Monday.
“Our demands are still the same. We want Yamaha India to implement the direction it got from the Labour Department,” he said.
Sampath and Kannan have been detained by the police for leading the protest. Naam Tamizhar Katchi Leader Seeman, who participated in the rally, was also detained by the police.
Speaking to TNM, a senior police officer said that preventive arrests have been made and that no FIR has been filed yet.
Yamaha India workers began their sit-down strike inside the factory premises after two workers were dismissed for their efforts to form a labour union in the company. On similar lines, four workers from Royal Enfield were dismissed for issues related to forming of a workers union. MSI suspended 13 workers from the company for protesting against the wages, which was lesser than what was allegedly promised by the company in one of its meetings.