Workers’ protest outside Alfa Laval gets Swedish support

The protest is illegal and unjustified and therefore we do not want to engage with it,the company said.

Written by MANOJ MORE | Pune | Published:December 15, 2013 3:52 am

The agitation by around 400 “contract workers” outside Alfa Laval,Indian arm of the Swedish Engineering Group,has drawn support from workers in Sweden.

The support has come after a report was published in Pune Newsline dated November 2. What has drawn sympathy from workers in Sweden is the refusal of Pune workers to back off despite a temperature dip. The city had recorded 6.8 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

Last month,the workers in Sweden had held protests outside the Alfa Laval industrial complex at Gunnesbo,Lund,(Sweden) to express their solidarity with the 400 workers in Pune. Since that failed to work,the workers on Saturday took out a rally in Lund city in a bid to impress upon the Alfa Laval bosses there to convince the Pune management to accept the demands of the workers. “Nearly 1,400 workers were invited to participate in the rally. This is what the workers representatives in Sweden had told us,” said Yashwant Bhosale of the Rashtriya Shramik Aghadi.

Bhosale said after the report on the plight of the workers protesting outside Alfa Laval gates near Kasarwadi along the Pune-Mumbai highway was published,workers Henric Johnsson and Martin Djork from Sweden sent a team of students who were in India to find out what exactly was happening.

“The students interacted with the agitating workers and reported back their plight to workers in Sweden,” said Bhosale. After this,some workers agitated outside the Alfa Laval premises in Lund city and tried to convince officials to pressurise the Pune management and end the strike. “Since the strike has not ended,the workers took out a rally on Saturday with the hope that the management there will make the local management see reason,” he said.

While workers have been claiming that they have been with the company for a long time,ranging from 5 to 20 years,and therefore should get permanency in service,the company said protesters are employees of contractors of the company and not the company itself,therefore the protests have no locus-standi. “The protest is illegal and unjustified and therefore we do not want to engage with it,” the company has maintained.

Jan Hedemann,managing director Alfa Laval,said since the issue was in industrial court,they would wait for the court directives. “After the verdict,we will decide the future course of action,” he said. Hedemann said the company was “greatly pained” at the campaign of misinformation being carried.

Hedemann denied that the workers who agitated in Sweden belonged to Alfa Laval. “I don’t think if 15-20 people agitate in Sweden means that agitation here have got global support…,” he said. However,Bhosale said if the company claimed that those agitating in Sweden were not its workers,it cannot deny the fact that they were residents of

Sweden.

“The workers who are agitating in dipping temperature has received sympathy and support from Sweden. It will encourage them to fight on,” he said.

Alfa Lava however conceded that “A handful of rallyists visited the company head office in Sweden. Our office corrected facts that were misrepresented to them and also explained our processes in India. Our Unions in Sweden and India are strongly behind the management on the issue.”

The company said the workers have not been sacked,but the have decided to stay out from 1 October without any notice or information to their employer. “The company has not fired any worker. Since these are contract employees,we follow the contract terms and process which is existing and being followed for the last 10 years. The protests are being led by an outsider who looks to be bringing outsiders to merge with few of the contractors workers.” The company however said if the workers withdrew their strike,things would be back to pre-strike days.

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