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'Reinstate 13 suspended, 17 expelled workers': Belsonica union leaders begin protest fast

By Harsh Thakor* 

Even as its trade union leaders embarked on hunger strike from 4th May, Maruti Suzuki’s components manufacturing unit Belsonica’s management is being accused of violating the orders/ instructions of the Labour Department and the Administrative Officer by suspending 13 labourers and terminating 17 labourers from their jobs.
Speaking on behalf of Belsonica workers' relatives, the wife of union president Mohinder Kapoor said that the management is permeating a scenario of tension and fear in the families by sacking workers. “It is extracting the main production by employing contract workers on machines. This action represents unfair labour practice and violation of labour laws”.
“Cases of 546 dismissed workers of Maruti is pending in the court even after 11 years. Even till date these workers have not got justice”, she said at the protest meeting at the fasting site. “The officers are paying a deaf ear to the requests made through the complaints, demand letters and memorandums of the union.”
On March 3, during the negotiations held in the mediation of Assistant Labour Commissioner, Gurugram, and on March 21, orders/ instructions were given to the union and the management to maintain status quo and peace.
The union said, the management paid no heed to the orders /instructions of the Labour Department and the Administrative Officer. It appealed to settle the dispute through complaints, collective demand letters and memorandum. But all the officers “ignored” the plea of ​​the union.
The union decided to undertake hunger strike from May 4 to solve the disputes. Two office bearers of the union, Ajit Singh, general secretary, and Rajpal, deputy head of the union, embarked on hunger strike.
The union alleged that in the last three decades the permanent workforce in the factories has been considerably reduced. The number of contract labourers is intensifying. The management wishes to retrench permanent workers on a large scale. and cripple the labour union.
It is difficult to take to legal recourse in the present scenario, with the legal system at the complete mercy of management.
The Belsonica union has been launching battle for the past two years against indiscriminate retrenchments. In 2021, the union had given membership to a contract worker. After this, on the complaint of the company management, the Labour Department issued a 'show cause notice' to the union on December 26, 2022, warning it to cancel the recognition.
The union alleged that in the last three decades the permanent workforce in the factories has been considerably reduced
Last year, the management terminated 3 permanent workers. After that the management suspended 3 union office bearers on 17 March 2023. Then the management suspended 10 workers on March 30 due to union activities.
On 7th April, 3 old contract workers were given union membership. They too were terminated. On April 21, the management terminated 11 workers from their jobs. The management has so far suspended about 13 workers and terminated 17 workers from their jobs.
On 28 April 2023, the Belsonica Union took out a procession along with Maruti Suzuki Labor Union and handed over the memorandum of its demands to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurugram. The relatives of Belsonica also took part in this procession.
The Belsonica management is firing workers who have been working for 10-15 years citing fake documents.
During the ongoing settlement/solution talks mediated by the Additional Deputy Commissioner and the Labour Officer, the management is sacking the workers by adopting unscrupulous actions by violating the orders/instructions of the written peace and status quo of the settlement officers.
The union demands implementation of the legal provision of permanent employment on permanent work. It is seeking to take back 17 terminated and 13 suspended workers to work immediately, cancel the charge sheets and show cause letters given to labourers in the name of fake documents and indiscipline, dispose of collective demand letters of the union with respect, and take action against the Belsonica management for unfair labour practice regarding work being done by contract/ temporary labourersq.
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*Freelance journalist who has covered mass movements. Inputs: Workers Unity and Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra leader Shyambir

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