Hyundai Motor India strike enters second day

Chennai, June 8 (IANS) The strike by workers at the Hyundai Motor India Ltd plant near here to demand the reinstatement of 67 dismissed colleagues and recognition of their union continued for the second day Tuesday.

‘Our members are continuing their sit-in strike since Sunday midnight. Many of them have not taken food since Sunday night. One worker fainted Monday and was taken to the hospital. The management has declared leave for the first shift today (Tuesday),’ Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU) president A. Edison Periera told IANS.

He said a conciliation meeting was slated for Tuesday before the labour commissioner.

The production halt Monday at the country’s second largest car manufacturer’s Irrungattukottai plant caused a loss of 2,200 cars valued at around Rs.65 crore.

‘The management started flexing its muscle by suspending four more workers and that was one of the reasons for us going on strike,’ K. Thangapandian, vice president, HMIEU told IANS.

Hyundai Motor India’s Managing Director and Chief Executive H.W. Park had last month ruled out reinstating the dismissed workers.

He had also said that the government was yet to confer the status of ‘public utility’ on the company as agreed at the time of setting up the plant a decade ago.

According to Thangapandian, the union was about to go on strike in January when the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, a former Hyundai Motor employee, was on a state visit, but deferred it as the management then promised to consider their demands.

As per the agreement between the union and the management Jan 20, 2010, reinstatement of 67 dismissed workers has to be considered on a case-by-case basis, he said.

‘The management agreed to take back 35 dismissed workers. It also agreed that talks on according recognition to the union will be held and both the parties – the union and the management – will work cordially to resolve the issues.’

According to the company, the strike has come at a wrong time as its two plants were shut down last month for maintenance May 24-June 3 and production resumed June 4.

The factory has around 1,650 permanent workers, 2,000 casual labourers, 1,500 apprentices, 1,000 Hyundai trade apprentices and 1,200 technical trainees.

The current strike at the Irrungattukottai plant is in violation of the orders of the district munsif-cum-judicial magistrate, Sriperumbedur, which prohibits any unlawful activity within the factory and within 100 metres radius of the factory premises, the company said.

‘This is a legal strike. We had given strike notice May 5 itself,’ Thangapandian said.

Last year, the workers had gone on a six-day strike protesting the wage agreement the management had negotiated with a workers committee.

Peace was brokered by Labour Minister T.M. Anbarasan and an agreement was signed between HMIEU and the management. As per the agreement, the company took back 20 of the 87 dismissed employees. It did not agree with the union’s demand to absorb the other 67.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor India Ltd has resorted to direct negotiations with the dismissed workers and offered them compensation.

Last month, the company settled the claims of two dismissed workers and had said the process is on in settling the accounts of 20 more.

The company alleged that the HMIEU was preventing the workers from signing the direct settlement.

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