India - Union Recognition Denied (2012)

Ford India workers strike for recognition: On 7 March, Ford India Employees Union (FIEU) served a 15 day strike notice on Ford India’s (FI) plant at Maraimalai Nagarin in Tamil Nadu. The union’s primary demand is that FI recognise the union.

Comstar continues to deny union recognition: About 425 Comstar Automotive Technologies Pvt Ltd (Comstar) workers represented by the Comstar Automotive Technologies Employees’ Union (CATEU) went on strike on 11 August in support of their demands for union recognition and negotiations for on a new contract that expired last March. Since the strike began, Comstar has suspended four workers for distributing leaflets to their co-workers and filed a false complaint with police that workers assaulted a company official. CATEU member Rajasekar said that Comstar has refused to recognise the union since its formation in 2004 and has been exerting pressure on workers to join a committee formed by management. Comstar is located in Maraimalai Nagar, a suburb of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and manufactures auto components for Ford Motor Company, Volvo, Tata Motors and others.

Maruti-Suzuki India denies union representation: Between 3 June and 21 October, workers at the Maruti-Suzuki India Ltd (MSI) plant at Manesar, Harayana, fought unsuccessfully for the registration of the Maruti Suzuki Employees’ Union (MSEU). Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corporation owns a 54.2% stake in MSI. The four and a half month struggle was marked by two MSEU strikes, one lockout imposed by MSI, the arrest of employees, MSI’s summary dismissal of over 1,000 contract workers and sympathy strikes by thousands of other workers. During the course of the strikes and lockout, MSI dismissed 80 workers and suspended 49 – including many MSEU leaders. Police arrested MSEU President Sonu Gujjar, General Secretary Shiv Kumar, and Executive Member Ravinder Kumar as they left a negotiations session with MSI and the Harayana Labour Ministry officials. They were charged with various violations of the Indian Penal Code included rioting, assault and making death threats. The Harayana government also denied to process MSEU’s application for union registration. A private labour contractor who contracts with SMI opened fire on striking workers wounding three. The 30 MSI workers who still faced discipline pending investigation after the last strike settlement in October resigned after reaching a settlement with MSI. Former MSEU leader Shiv Kumar confirmed that the 30 suspended workers resigned after each accepted a cash and severance package totalling IRS 1,600,000 (US$31,140.00).

Unilever stalls union recognition: Nearly four years after Unilever’s personal products factory at Doom Dooma, Assam, tried to destroy the union with a punishing six-week lockout, and almost one year since the IUF and Unilever formally concluded an agreement to settle the dispute under the auspices of the UK government, the workers are still waiting for their union to be recognised as their collective bargaining agent.

Hyundai installs yellow union: On 12 May, the Indian subsidiary of Korean-owned automaker Hyundai, Hyundai Motor India, Ltd (HMIL), recognised the newly-formed United Union of Hyundai Employees (UUHE) after refusing to recognise Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU) since 2007. In response, HMIEU demanded the holding of secret ballot to determine which union has a majority representation and served a strike notice on HMIL. HMIEU is affiliated with the CITU and elected Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) General Secretary A. Soundararajan as HMIEU President. HMIL had previously refused to recognise HMIEU on the grounds that the company had a committee to take care of workers’ issues. On 23 November, police arrested 23 members of Hyundai Motor India Employees Union (HMIEU), including HMIEU General Secretary, Sridharan when they attempted to stage a hunger strike at Irrungattukottai, Tamil Nadu. They were released the same day.

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