The recent workers strike at Royal Enfield production site near Chennai has attracted global attention, with the Switzerland-based IndustriALL Global Union (which represents more than 50 million workers in 140 countries, including India) urging the company’s management to take immediate steps and withdraw all actions that triggered staff discontent, and start collective bargaining negotiations with its affiliate union Working People Trade Union Council (WPTUC).
In his letter to the company’s managing director and chief excutive officer Siddhartha Lal, the global union’s general secretary Valter Sanches, said: We are deeply concerned over continuing violations of workers rights and vindictive actions against the staff at Royal Enfield s Oragadam plant in Chennai, because of their participation in union activities.
Currently, more sthan 290 workers are subjected to the vindictive actions. Around 174 trainee workers, who are employed for more than 480 days and legally eligible to become permanent workers, are sent home. Two women workers received termination letters as they challenged unilateral transfer. About 24 workers are transferred, and 41 are suspended while 54 trainees have been abruptly asked not to come to work.
There is no doubt that these actions go against universally accepted principles of human rights and core labour standards of freedom of association and collective bargaining, Sanches said.
We take note of the fact that the Royal Enfield management breached its commitment to not take vindictive action against workers during the tripartite negotiations held in the presence of district collector on November 12, 2018. The joint commissioner of labour in Chennai, on October 3, 2018, gave similar advice not to resort to vindictive actions against workers participating in trade union activities, and urged the management to maintain the ‘status quo’ of the situation as on September 24, his letter read.
We learned from our affiliate Royal Enfield union that the management, instead of engaging in good faith, collective bargaining negotiations, went ahead to transfer office bearers and active union members, including women workers, with unqualified disregard towards the advices of the government authorities, with the intention to undermine trade union rights, said Sanches.
I call upon you to take immediate steps to withdraw all vindictive actions and start collective bargaining negotiations with our affiliate WPTUC to establish industrial peace and to respect human rights and workers’ rights. This is the only way Royal Enfield, as it claims, can contribute to sustainable social development through responsible business practices. We look forward to your prompt action and reply, he emphasised in his letter.