Close to 400 odd workers struck work for the fifth consecutive day at the Tata Motors Sanand facility on Friday after talks initiated by the Deputy Labour Commissioner on the previous day between the management and workers failed to break the deadlock. Around 26 workers had been suspended earlier this week for demanding the reinstatement of 2 workers who were suspended with an enquiry pending since December.
Deputy Labour Commissioner MS Patel said that an application to term the strike ‘illegal’ had been forwarded to the Labour Commissioner after the department took stock of the situation and hosted talks between the management and workers on Thursday.
Lack of wage hikes and the move to form a trade union by workers recently has triggered the hostility between management and workers, said a striking worker who spoke to the paper on grounds of anonymity. He said, “Trouble began when we applied to start a trade union in December 2015. Despite working here for 6 years, my salary is Rs 12,000 and we get a meagre yearly hike of Rs 700-800, which is not acceptable. We are repeatedly told that the company is making losses even as its white collared employees are getting better hikes. We were assured by the company in November that the 2 suspended workers will be reinstated after a fair enquiry process, but that was not done. No evidence has also been given by the company officials that vandalism to cars in the production facility has been done by any workers. We are striking without pay and everyday around 500 odd workers are sitting in the lawn area everyday peacefully using Gandhiji’s Ahimsa marg(route of non-violence).”
A statement by the Tata Motors issued on Friday cited, “Tata Motors today has once again appealed to workmen at the plant not to be misled by people with vested interests and to join the duties immediately and restore normalcy in the plant in the larger interest of themselves, their families, the Company and society at large. While the Management has been making appeals to these striking workmen, there are rumours being spread in and around its Plant by some elements with vested interest that the Company is not allowing the workmen to enter the plant premises and work. Tata Motors Management clarifies that none of the regular workmen (other than a suspended few) have been ever stopped from entering the premises and is discharging their duties. While we have a strong history of working with unions across our plants, they have also been spreading rumors that the Company is not allowing the workmen to form their own union and organize themselves which not true. The Company recognizes the right of its workmen to form a union of their own and is supportive of the same.”