Strike hits production at Chennai plants of Royal Enfield, Yamaha

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on September 25, 2018

Royal Enfield workers staging a protest inside the factory at Oragadam on Monday

Production at the plants of two-wheeler majors — Royal Enfield and Yamaha India — in the auto cluster of Oragadam near here was affected after workers of both companies struck work, according to union sources.

“The strike started this morning with members of Royal Enfield Employees’ Union, who applied for registration, demanding a settlement on their charter of demands, including wage increase,” said R Sampath, Vice-President, Working People Trade Union Council and Vice-President of Royal Enfield Employees’ Union.

Sampath claimed that production was stopped at the plant with both permanent employees and contract labourers participating in the strike since morning.

The company had invested ₹150 crore in the Oragadam plant, which has an installed capacity of 150,000 units to produce the entire range of Royal Enfield motorcycles. “Every day, around 750 vehicles are produced. However, not a single vehicle has came out today,” Sampath told BusinessLine.

Sampath alleged that the company has neither confirmed nor terminated nearly 120 employees who were on probation. They were also not allowed to enter the plant. The company has also not reverted on the workers’ various demands, including that of wage increase.

On August 13, a strike notice was served on the company and a conciliatory meeting was called by the Labour Department. However, it is alleged that on all three occasions, the company officials did not turn up for the meetings. “We were left with no option but to resort to strike,” said Sampath.

At the Yamaha India plant, a strike by nearly 700 workers affected production. “Only 40 per cent production is going on,” said S Kannan, Kanchipuram District President of CITU, representing the striking workers.

Kannan alleged that there was a sudden sit-in strike on September 21 following the termination of two workers belonging to newly-created India Yamaha Motor Thozhilalar Sangham (India Motor Workers Association), which is being registered. The workers were allegedly terminated for approaching the Labour Department to discuss matters related to the welfare of workers.

Backing the two, 800 permanent workers went on a sudden strike and even slept inside the factory last night as a mark of protest. However, over 2,000 contract workers continued to work, but were doing only reassembling work, he said.

Yamaha did not reply to emails for a comment.

Royal Enfield's response

A spokesperson for Royal Enfield said that at Oragadam today, a majority of associate engineers are fully engaged in performing their roles; some of them did not report for work, though they were present in the facility. "We have forums that address matters related to the well being of workmen and are working to understand the issue that compelled a few workmen to refrain from reporting for work today. We are hopeful of arriving at a mutually beneficial solution."

(This news report was modified on September 25, 2018, to add Royal Enfield's response)

Published on September 24, 2018

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