Companies

Asahi workers on strike demanding reinstatement of dismissed colleagues

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on May 15, 2019 Published on May 15, 2019

Over 200 permanent workers of Asahi India Glass have been on strike from March 25, seeking reinstatement of 28 employees terminated from work.

In the absence of permanent employees, the plant is run by contract workers and apprentices with only 80 per cent utilisation, KS Ravi Kumar, Head, Legal and Industrial Relations, Asahi India told BusinessLine.

The automobile glass maker company supplies products to auto majors such as Hyundai, Ford, Nissan, Maruti and Daimler. It has a 77 per cent market share in the segment.

The trouble started in June 2017, with workers demanding 14-gramme gold coins as a gift on the plant’s 10th anniversary. The management declined the request butoffered a lesser sum as cash incentive. Unhappy with the decision, workers resorted to a “go slow”, from June 1, 2017, for over a month. According to Kumar, the company incurred an initial loss of around ₹80 lakh.

Asahi approached the Madras High Court, which restrained employees from obstructing work. On July 6, 2017, employees halted work, prompting the management to suspend and later terminate 28 workers.

The employees, who were part of an informal workers group, joined with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), affiliated to the Communist Party of India. However, the Asahi management declined to recognise CITU-led union, and opted to resolve issues through the Works Committee. CITU on February 5 demanded an unconditional reinstatement of all 28 workmen. With no headway, on March 5 the union issued a notice warning of indefinite strike from March 25.

The Assistant Commissioner of Labour (ACL), Kanchipuram, suggested bilateral discussions between the striking workers and the management, but CITU failed to attend and went ahead with the strike, Kumar added.

S Kannan, Kanchipuram State District Secretary, CITU, said: “Though labour issues have been resolved with many companies, we have failed to reach an understanding by mutual agreement at Asahi. We went to the Labour Department but nothing has been resolved yet, ultimately leading to the strike,” he said.

On Tuesday, the ACL urged the workers and the management to sit for negotiations, to be held on May 19. “We are open for negotiations, but there will be no compromise in reinstating the terminated employees,” said Kumar.

Published on May 15, 2019
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