GM braces for showdown, warns workers of dismissal

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on March 12, 2018


Exasperated due to the frequent strikes by a section of workers affiliated to different unions at its largest Indian manufacturing plant in Halol near Vadodara, multinational automaker General Motors India is now bracing for a possible showdown with striking workers, who have been warned to return to work by the first shift of Friday, or face dismissal and be replaced by new job-seekers.

Intervention sought

As the strike entered eighth day today, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had asked the district administration to send a report on the issue of alleged ‘inhuman' work conditions at GM plant.

On the other hand, the American Chamber of Commerce in India (AMCHAM-India), an association of US businesses operating in India, has also asked the Gujarat Government to intervene.

After their three-day strike in October 2010, a group of workers affiliated to the pro-Congress Party trade union INTUC went on flash strike again on March 16. On Thursday, hardening its stand, GM published a public notice-cum-ultimatum in the newspapers, dubbing the strike as illegal, adding that even the State Government has on March 18 declared it illegal.

The Labour Commissioner's office had invited union leaders and the GM management for a conciliatory meeting today but the latter did not turn up, reports from Vadodara said. The Panchmahals district administration has, meanwhile, imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144, Indian Penal Code, around the GM factory prohibiting assembly of more than four people.

Tomorrow, the strikers have threatened a sit-in at the plant. They will also be meeting the district magistrate, Mr Milind Toravane, and move the High Court against prohibitory orders, a union spokesman said. State INTUC President Mr Nikhil Mehta said the State Government and GM's notifications describing the strike illegal was against the Industrial Disputes Act, and that only temporary workers had returned to work at the plant.

650 turn up

Meanwhile, Mr P. Balendran, Director, GM India, told Business Line that with more workers returning to duty, nearly 650 workers, out of a total of 900, worked today . The remaining 250 have also been asked to return. The company was ready to discuss with workers once they report to work. The workers had signed an agreement in December 2010 pertaining to their wages for three years and had violated it themselves now, he added.

On the other hand, the union claimed that 650 workers were still on strike. The Halol facility has a capacity to manufacture 85,000 units per annum. Due to the strike, the company was able to make only 70 units a day, against 190 scheduled. According to Mr Balendran, 100 units were manufactured today.

The workers's demands include payment for overtime work according to the Factory Act, reduction of work load, revocation of the management's practice of transferring union leaders to dealers' network and ‘forcing' unskilled or semi-skilled ones to work.

Published on March 24, 2011

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