Considered as one of the fastest growing Special Economic Zones (SEZs),Dahej in Bharuch district has off late witnessed an increasing number of labour-management conflicts.
According to senior police officers in the district,the recent recovery of two 9mm pistols along with a packet of ammonia nitrate from the car of the general manager of Welspun indicates the growing tension between labourers and management in the area.
Bharuch Superintendent of Police Raghavendra Vats said: Workers have on many occasions threatened the industry owners. There are also splintering of labour groups,which often leads to spot strikes.
Last Saturday,Welspun General Manager Samirkumar Krishnakumarsinh Rajput was shocked when a team of Local Crime Branch (LCB) officers on a tip-off stopped his car and recovered two 9mm pistols and a packet containing ammonia nitrate from the boot. LCB officers said Rajput was on his way to Mumbai after trying to negotiate with a splinter group of the labour union,which did not work out.
He (Rajput) held a meeting with five persons who were negotiating with the striking unions. But when nothing concrete could be achieved,Rajput left for Mumbai in his car, said LCB Inspector A S Saiyyad. He added: When we questioned the five persons named by Rajput,they alleged he had framed them. On the other hand,Rajput seems to be innocent as no evidence has been gathered against him till now.
The police say that regularisation of the workers terms of employment is the reason behind the fracas in Welspun,while Dahej residents say that rapid development of the industries has led to such management-worker conflicts.
Most of the workers here are migrants who often clash over various employment issues. Moreover,the lack of health facilities in the area jeopardises the safety of the workers employed in the chemical industry, said Dahej-based advocate P K Gadhvi.
According to Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) members,the management-labour conflicts are happening due to the prevalence of contractual terms of employment. Industry owners are more bothered about profit. Secondly,contractual employment and the presence of middlemen to negotiate employment are affecting the management-worker relations in a major way. Companies need to take up more Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. The health care facilities also have to be extended to Dahej, said H J Pandya,a member of the Contractual Labour Abolition Body of Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh.