Karnataka: Workers Hold Rally Against Factory Bill
Workers gathered at Peenya Industrial Area in Bengaluru. | Image by Nikhil Cariappa
Workers affiliated with the AICCTU (All India Central Council of Trade Unions) held a rally and public meeting at Peenya Industrial Area on Sunday. The workers protested against the four labour codes and the Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Act, 2023, introduced by the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) to increase working hours to 12 hours/day. Insecure workers from the manufacturer, Yazaki Corporation, also attended the meeting. Around 50 workers participated.
Nagendra, a worker at Peenya, spoke to NewsClick about his reason for giving up his Sunday for union work.
"The workers in Peenya industrial area face multiple issues. The payments are irregular; the overtime wages are not properly paid. I used to work at a shoe factory called Kuvempu Enterprises. They used to exploit and sometimes assault the migrant workers from North India. They were not giving us our salary slips or even the PF. We wanted to leave the factory but had pending wages of two months. One of our friends gave us a union (AICCTU) pamphlet. We contacted them. They protested with us and ensured all our dues were cleared. We left the factory and took up another job in Peenya itself."
Nagendra and his nephew Nagaraj were both employed at Kuvempu. But they left the company due to the irregular payments. They say male workers were paid Rs 8000/month, while female workers were paid Rs 6000/month.
"I joined the union a year ago. Through word of mouth, we communicate to other workers that they can complain to the union in case of irregular payments. We hold meetings with workers. Now, their payments are released on time if they threaten to complain to the union," says Nagaraj.
Workers at Kuvempu Enterprises again contacted the union in June over the delay in the payment of wages.
Workers from the auto parts manufacturer, Yazaki also attended the meeting. In December last year, 153 workers were verbally sacked without notice. However, around 40 workers were taken back in January during conciliatory proceedings. These workers are hired as 'trainees' even though they perform core manufacturing roles, and some even have supervisory roles. On paper, they are hired as 'trainees' for one year. This agreement is renewed every year and can go on for an indefinite period. The reinducted workers are insecure about the possibility that their agreements will not be renewed once it expires this year.
Arindam Roy, union leader of AICCTU, says, "After two months of protests outside the factory gates, we got the company to reinstate some workers. However, there is a possibility that their agreements will not be renewed. We have filed a case for the permanency of these workers. Legally, they cannot be sacked when the proceedings are underway."
The union has filed the case for permanency with the Deputy Labour Commissioner at Bagalagunte, Bengaluru.
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