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Protest forces Hitachi's successor unit in Manesar to re-instate sacked workers

By Harsh Thakor* 

Following protest dharna by contract workers, the management of Manesar’s Proterial plant, which is a successor of the Hitachi Metals India, has been forced to re-instate two union leaders and 50 workers it had sacked.
The contract workers had launched a militant strike. This followed the move of the management to sack two labour leaders, leading the company's nearly three hundred contract workers to proteest. The B shift workers left their machines and assembled at the shop floor.
The work continued with no turbulence in Shift A. However, when the workers of B shift entered, the management called the two leading labour leaders to their chamber. An inspector of the labour court was also present. The management discussed elevating the production, which was accepted by the labour representatives.
When the matter was brought before the management that the newly recruited 25 contract workers should be removed, no consensus was reached. When the C shift workers arrived at the company at night, they joined the dharna outside the gate where the workers of A shift were already sitting. The workers of B shift were inside the company.
The workers asked the management to open the toilets. The management yielded after 12 long hours. Still till all the workers who were inside the company sat hungry. About 25-30 bouncers were guarding the plant and heavy police force was deployed to stifle any discontent.
The contract labourers employed in the plant formed a committee of five to hold talks with the management, out of which three were fired earlier. There are a total of 46 permanent workers and around 270 contract workers in the company.
The union of the permanent workers played no role in the dharna, nor did it offer any moral support to them.. A contract worker earns Rs 12-13,000 a month, while the salary of permanent workers is far more.
The company belongs to Japan and the parts manufactured in it go directly to Japan, yet the working conditions for the workers are arduous. In June 2022, the company's name was changed to 'Proterial' and a policy was proposed to recruit workers in accordance to the new code.
Most contract workers have been working in the company for the last 2 to 6 years. Their demands included permanent employment for all workers doing permanent type of work, increase in wages, improvement in working conditions, etc. A copy of the collective demand letter has been submitted to the Haryana Labour Department.
With no official of labour department stepping into the plant to talk to the workers, the management and the police continued placing pressure on the workers to vacate the plant. The struggling workers appealed to all trade unions and justice loving people to wave their flags in their support.
The the dharna received support from the Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra, Suzuki power Union, Maruti Suzuki workers Union, Belsonika Union, and few other unions.
*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements around India. Inputs: Workers Unity and Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra secretary Shyambir



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