Protesting Hyundai workers roll out cars on empty stomach

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 29, 2011 18:27 hrs

Chennai: Even as a sizeable number of workers of the Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) roll out cars on an empty stomach pressing various demands, 32 dismissed employees are planning to go on indefinite fast outside the plant, said a workers union member Tuesday.

'For the past 16 days, a majority of the workers do not eat (lunch or any food) or drink anything (tea or coffee) while at work. Wearing black badges, they finish their work and go back home,' R. Gunasekaran, vice president of Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU) told IANS.

'Tomorrow (Wednesday) 32 of the dismissed workers will begin indefinite fast demanding their reinstatement and also recognition of the union that is truly representative of the workers,' he added.

The reason for the current problem at the Indian subsidiary of the South Korean auto maker Hyundai is the reduction of workforce on the assembly line and their redeployment in other works.

'The number of hands on the assembly line has been reduced which in turn has resulted in increased workload on the remaining workers,' K. Thangapandian, a worker, said.

According to Gunasekaran, the 32 dismissed workers had planned to go on indefinite hunger strike Tuesday onwards but had to postpone their plans by a day for want of police permission.

The union got a morale booster recently with the Madras High Court ordering the HMIL to reinstate two of the dismissed workers - union president Edison Periera and another office bearer Chinnaraja.

According to union members, the company is paying Periera and Chinnaraja their monthly salary while peferring an appeal against the judgement.

However, the management recognised union United Union of Hyundai Employees (UUHE) did not agree with the HMIEU's contention on the workload.

The HMIL management had taken into confidence UUHE while chalking out the redeployment.

'We negotiated with the management for nearly one and half months on the redeployment,' K. Dilli Babu, president of UUHE, told IANS.

'The company has shifted some portion of Santro and i20 models to different lines. Some portion of Santro has been shifted to A2 production line in the first plant and i20 production to the second plant,' he added.

'The workers in the assembly line have been redeployed based on the workload in each work station. However the redeployment has not added any additional workload on the workers,' E.K. Kumaraswamy, treasurer, UUHE told IANS.

The redeployment was made after the company started production of new small car Eon.

The number of components in Eon is low as compared to other models and hence the management decided to redeploy the work force for their efficient utilisation, workers said.

'The decision of redeployment of workers was taken in consultation with the recognised union and there is no increase of workload for the workers. On the reinstatement of Periera and Chinnaraja, the company is contesting the decision,' R. Sethuraman, senior vice president (finance and corporate affairs), said.

More from Sify: