Workers from Swedish company Alfa Laval India Pvt Ltd. situated at Kasarwadi, Pune are on a strike for the last three months (from September) with their main demand to make them permanent. Alfa Laval is involved in the production of heat exchangers.
More than 400 workers are on strike. Of them, 80% are working in the company from last 10 to 15 years. Remaining have completed at least 4 to 5 years. Many of them are treated as trainees since their joining till date, with a payment roughly between Rs. 8000 to 10,000, which is hardly sufficient to make ends meet. The company did not make most of the workers permanent, when it should have after 240 days of joining, violating the labour laws of the land. Most of them were in fact hired as sweepers and cleaners on paper, when in fact they are actually involved in production and are trained workers with diplomas (ITI). The company currently has only 60 permanent workers and another 250 semi-permanent workers (who are yet to show solidarity with their striking compatriots and are affiliated to different unions).
Fed up by the company’s ignorance to their demands, the contract workers decided to strike work in September of last year. Company cold heartedly dismissed all of them, but determined struggle by the workers and pressure on the labour office has forced the labour commissioner to order the company to take back all the workers, which the company still refuses. Now the case is in another court and the verdict is expected soon.
The contract workers are organized under Rashtree Shramik Agardi that is affiliated to a Trade Union belonging to the sugar baron Sharat Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The permanent workers are affiliated to separate unions. Competitive trade union politics (with little or no class politics) of different mainstream political parties have only sought to divide the working class, that has only played it to the company’s advantage.
New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) stands in solidarity and supports all the demands of the workers. We Demand:
- To reinstate all the sacked workers without conditions
- The company management engage in immediate negotiations with the employees union and settle all the workers demands
- Regularization of all Contract workers and abolition of the Contact labour system
- Right of Workers to form their union under democratic principles without interference from the company management
- The government legislates and strictly implement labor laws including the right to form Trade Unions and the workers’ right to strike
It is imperative on the leadership of the Unions to have an industry/trade wide unions on a Town, City, State and National basis strictly run on grass roots democracy, which will be enormously effective in fighting for better wages and conditions from the current fractured unions under the control of political parties, NGO’s etc.