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Demand for unionization: Tata Nano workers detained off Ahmedabad as they protest suspension of colleagues

By Our Representative
Nearly 350 skilled workers of the Tata Nano factory, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought to Gujarat from West Bengal about eight years ago, were detained by the police at the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) Gate No 2 in Sanand, a new industrial hub 12 km from Ahmedabad.
The workers were protesting against the alleged refusal of the state government to take back 28 of their colleagues, as they had raised their voice for recognizing their newly-formed union, Bhartiya Kamdar Ekta Sangh (BKES), said Ashim Roy, a well-known Gujarat based trade union leader guiding the Nano workers’ strike, which has been continuing for the last about three weeks.
The GIDC Gate No 2 is the main entry point towards the Tata Nano factory, which has become famous for producing India’s smallest car. Ever since the skilled workers, nearly 450 of them, are on strike, the production of the car is said to be on a standstill. "The BKES was recognised this weekend, by the state government, but these workers remain suspended", Roy said.
Among others who were detained along with the protesters included Lalji Desai, a farmers’ leader who recently joined the Congress, Khedut Samaj Gujarat leader Sagar Rabari, and Ashim Roy. “In all, 500 plus workers and activists were detained, because we decided to defy the state government refusal to give permission to BKES to protest”, Roy said.
This was the second detention of the Tata Nano workers in a week's time for their protest against refusal to get the suspension of their colleagues cancelled. On March 14, they were detained in front of the Ahmedabad district collector's office.
Before the detention, the meeting was addressed by Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari, who were also the main leaders of the farmers’ movement against Mandal Bahucharaji Special Investment Region (SIR)  in Central Gujarat, and Ashim Roy.
They demanded revocation of "punitive suspension" of 28 of the Tata Nano company’s skilled workmen in retaliation of seeking registration for their new union. They condemned the government for acting on behest of the company in suppressing the labour moment.
The strikes of Tata Nano workers, which began on February 22, 2016, is prolonging despite several round of talks with the representatives of the Tata Nano management. “The company has been evading to discuss the core proposals suggested by the labour department and instead has been demanding authorization of the representatives”, Roy said.
Meanwhile, Lalji Desai and Sagar Rabari declared their decision to mobilize rural area farmers in the region in support of the Tata Nano workers if they are not allowed to resume work within a week.
Roy said, “It is shameful that the administration is denying dharna of 50 workers on ground lack of police force allocated for other urgent work. However, it able to mobilise massive police force to control and detain 400 people to protect the Tata Nano company. The police mobilised SRP in buses provided by the company.”
“In view of this repressive atmosphere created by the police, in all 22 organisation, including national trade unions decided to intensify the agitation. More and more unions are joining the Solidarity campaign of Tata Nano workers”, he added.

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