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Pay equal pay for equal work, demand Hitachi successor unit contract workers' union

By Harsh Thakor* 

After 30 hours duration of sustained struggle, an agreement has arrived between the management and the contract workers, sitting on strike in the plant premises of the company Proterial, Manesar, formerly Hitachi Metals. Under the agreement, the company has consented to not to fire the protesting workers. Credit for this goes to the relentless spirit of the workers.
After the B shift workers sat inside the company and the C and A shifts staged a dharna outside, other labour unions and labour organizations of Manesar also arrived at the company gate in support of the provincial workers, including the unions of the Maruti Manesar Car Plant, Maruti Powertrain and Belsonica.
The unions of Maruti Car Plant and Power Train made arrangements for one-time meals for the workers sitting on strike. Along with this, Ram Kumar, leader of the All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), dismissed workers of Maruti, Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra and Mazdoor Sahyog Kendra also came in support of the Proterial workers.
The unions appealed to the labour department to intervene and promised full cooperation in the future if needed.

Management's 'defiance'

However, the management declared that it would deduct attendance bonus of Rs 2,000, due to which the workers have objected.
The leader of the contract workers, Rajesh Kumawat, was fired on May 3 on the alleged charge of possessing tobacco. Six months back, 25 contract labourers were also fired.
All these issues, including the demand notice, are to be discussed on May 18 between the workers' representatives and the management.
The workers sitting on the dharna claimed that on May 11, the two leading workers of B shift were terminated by the management, in protest against which they were compelled to embark on the dharna.
The management alleged that the workers were conducting a slowdown for a long time and were giving only 80% production of total capacity. On 11th the talks were conducted on giving 100% production.
Even in the agreement, dated 12th May, the management asserted to achieve more than 100% production. The workers countered that the machines had a stipulated time and more than 100% production could not be given in the time. Only by working overtime could such a target be achieved.
The management appeared to have left no stone unturned in attempting to demoralise the workers by tightening very nose on their welfare.

State of contract workers

Contract workers' salary is approximately Rs 10, 000 per month. Apart from this, a bonus of Rs 2,000 is available every month on complete attendance. If a worker takes a day off, then this bonus is deducted.
If a worker works even for half a day, Rs 700 and attendance bonus are deducted from his salary. If a worker does duty without any breake, only then he gets a total salary of around Rs 12,500.
The company was forced to enter into agreement under under Section 12(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act.
The workers have demanded that all contract workers should be made permanent, unconditionally. Equal pay should be given for equal work and legal holidays should be granted.
Presently, the situation is that if a worker takes leave other than weekly leave or falls ill, his salary plus attendance bonus is deducted, making the worker incur debt for that month.
*Freelance journalist who covers mass movements in India. Inputs: Shyambir of Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra and Workers Unity



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