After General Motors, Arvind Ltd., Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) and Hitachi Home and Life Solutions (India) Ltd., it is now Apollo Tyres' Vadodara plant in Gujarat which has witnessed a strike. The workers have been protesting the company's refusal to officially recognise the newly formed workers' union Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS) within the plant as well as suspension of two employees.
In this regard, KO Shah, deputy labour commissioner, Labour Department, Government of Gujarat has summoned the Apollo Tyres' management as well as the striking workers and BMS representatives on Monday, October 29, 2012.
"There were two committees formed for the plant workers' welfare in the past. However, none of them could address the workers' concerns. The company has also denied the workers their basic rights of decent wage hikes. Moreover, the company is not only refusing to recognise the new union, it is not even agreeing to retract suspension of two employees," said Hussain Solanki, president of Gujarat chapter of Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh.
What's more, while close to 1,500 workers have stopped going to work since Tuesday, around 7,000-odd workers at Apollo Tyres Limited's Limda plant in Waghodia area of Vadodara have threatened to go on indefinite strike soon too. So far the striking workers have been involved in non-violent protest outside the plant premises.
While the company officials could not be reached for comments, Apollo Tyres Ltd informed BSE saying, "A a group of workers at the company's plant at Limda, Vadodara resorted to disruption of work effective from October 23, 2012 owing to the demand for formation of an additional union over and above the existing 3 unions already recognised by the company. The management is making all out efforts to resolve the issue. However, no strike and/or lockout at our aforesaid plant has been declared so far."
Solanki also alleged that the workers' wages did not rise at the same pace at which the production at the facility.
However, according to Shah, the strike is unwarranted for. "In 2010, the company had hiked the workers' wages by Rs 7,800 per month. Moreover, the wage agreement had been signed till December 2012. The workers could have waited till then and sought further wage hike. Nevertheless, we have summoned the Apollo Tyres management as well as the striking workers to reach a consensus on Monday," said Shah.
Earlier, two workers were suspended by the management due to alleged absenteeism.