Coimbatore Pricol Workers Protest Illegal Mass Dismissal

SOME 300 permanent workers from Pricol, the automotive components manufacturer based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, ended their 100-day strike after the management agreed to some of their demands, as instructed by the State Labour Department. But their victory was short-lived as after joining back, over 300 of them were handed transfer orders.

The workers, who are part of the union -- Kovai Manila Pricol Thozhilalargal Otrumai Sangam (KMPTOS)-affiliated to All India Central Council of Trade Union (AICCTU), had been protesting against the repressive policies of management. After an agreement with the management, when the workers went back to work, some 302 workers, who were active in the protest, received transfer orders to Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra. The explanation given by the management was that the strike had caused a ‘severe’ loss to the company so they were being transferred, as the company wanted to save their jobs. The workers were given three weeks to relocate to these other states.

Incidentally, the strike was called off after the management agreed to follow up on the Labour Department’s instructions, such as settling dues of profit sharing and bonus for the protesting workers, giving pending allowances to the protesting workers, and assuring that there would be no victimisation.

It was only after these assurances that the Labour Department asked the workers to rejoin the company at the earliest. But, the management seems to have back on its word, while the workers kept theirs and rejoined work, not knowing that a rude shock awaited them.

Then the management of Kovai Pricol Limited dismissed 294 workers from service overnight, without any enquiry, from 12.02.2019 saying that workers refused victimization transfers to Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh. The Pricol Management has resorted to such obviously brutal and illegal dismissals, violating advice by the Tamil Nadu Labour Department and the Coimbatore District Collector (DC) who categorically advised against any vindictive action and against transfers. The High Court gave an interim stay on the dismissal order till 28 February.

AICCTU demanded that the Tamil Nadu government should direct the Pricol management to withdraw illegal dismissal of 294 workers forthwith and to disburse denied monetary benefits to affected workers immediately. AICCTU has also decided to organise an All India campaign from 15 February to 15 March - “Oust Modi! Save Workers’ Rights! Save Democracy!” The dismissal of 294 Pricol workers will be one of the prominent issues of the campaign. The Tamil Nadu State Committee of AICCTU also has planned an elaborate campaign on the issue.

All Left trade unions and Left and progressive parties and forces in Tamil Nadu have extended their support to struggling workers of Pricol. They have signed a joint statement.