Guest post by RAMAPRIYA GOPALAKRISHNAN and BOBBY KUNHU
On January 2nd this year, management officials at the Sriperumbudur factory of NVH India Auto Parts Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of a Korean auto parts manufacturing company manhandled the company’s striking workers. The shocking visuals of the Korean managers of the company dragging workers on the floor and a manager standing over a worker holding him between his feet sparked outrage amongst civil society groups and caught the attention of the mainstream media.
The trigger for the strike was the suspension of 15 workers which their union alleges was without any reason. Several other issues festering for a long time also gave an impetus to the workers to go on strike. These include the lack of adequate toilet facilities. Apparently, there are only 6 toilets in a factory where more than 700 workers are employed of which only 4 are in usable condition. In a juvenile twist, the workers have to seek and secure the permission of the management officials each time they need to use the toilet. If this rule is violated in cases of emergency, warning letters are issued to workers alleging that they were found missing from their work spot. Another issue is the lack of a regular and sufficient supply of drinking water in the factory. The workers were also miffed at being under the glare of surveillance cameras all the time during their work hours. A very important issue that was a sore point was the management’s use of trainees and contract labour to perform production work of a regular nature. The workers were also upset at the attitude of the Korean management and the way they treat them. They allege that there are instances of physical abuse where the management officials hit and slap workers and spit on their faces. Over and above all this, the permanent workers in the factory were peeved at the failure of the management to grant recognition to the union they had joined in 2013 and negotiate with the union.